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Today (Monday 1 March) is officially the first day of gin – or at least the first day of Harris Gin off the shelf – as the island-distilled favourite goes on retail sale in a select range of shops.

The Isle of Harris distillery is starting its first off-sales retail test campaign, with Western Isles stores the first to be able to stock the distinctive bottles on their shelves from today.

Isle of Harris gin has always sold direct to customers up to now, though there have also been click-and-collect points across Scotland, including in Stornoway.

But from today the distillery is trialling a new off-the-shelf shopping model, exclusively in the Western Isles.

Business development manager Peter Kwasniewski said: “Although we have had a very good year through 2020, we wanted to assess all potential routes to market. Rather than stocking lots of stores without a test, we thought we would test locally to see how customers react.

“We have never sold through shops before and we want to do it well. We thought by doing it this way we can test how it’s going to work, retaining the feeling of partnership and making sure we have personal contact with everyone who is selling our gin.

“The partnership is so that the people who sell our gin understand the brand, our social values and the greater goals we have as a business – creating employment and adding to the social capital of our islands.”

The change is another step forward for the Isle of Harris distillery, which found out last week (Thursday 25 February) that Harris Gin had won gold in the world gin awards, in the taste category London dry gin.

The company is also currently marketing a special edition ‘I Love Harris Gin’ as an NHS fundraiser, with£4.50 of every order going to www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk

From today, Harris Gin will be available in the following outlets:

  • In Stornoway – The Good Food Boutique and the Island Spirit Whisky Shop (both Cromwell Street)
  • In Ness – Cross Stores
  • In Tarbert – A D Munros
  • Eriskay Stores in Eriskay
  • Bayhead Stores in North Uist

The picture shows Iain Faller at the Island Spirit Whisky Shop, stocking Harris Gin from today.