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      General News

The hugely-anticipated launch of the first Isle of Harris single malt whisky is set to bring excitement and a lot of traffic to the village of Tarbert this weekend.

Ferry services, road traffic and parking could all be disrupted as whisky aficianadoes descend on the islands to celebrate the first taste of a good Harris dram, The Hearach.

There are limits on where and when the first dram can be tasted, with careful planning seeking to prevent online and onsite chaos.

Launch weekend has a ceremonial first tasting at 2.15pm on Friday 22 September, followed by a village-wide ceilidh from 10am on Saturday as the first dram goes on sale online and direct from the distillery.

An hour-long livestream has been laid on, with stories, island music and the opportunity to watch other people raising a glass at www.harrisdistillery.com/behere.

But despite the ‘behere’ tagline, Isle of Harris Distillery are keen to limit the impact of what could be a whisky-rush in Harris.

They’ve asked Police Scotland to officiate on the main road leading into Tarbert, due to what they say is ‘the high volume of traffic anticipated.’

Available car parks will be at the distillery itself, Sir E Scott school and the CalMac ferry terminal, though this last will only be available after 12.15pm.

Marshalls will be in operation throughout the day to control these areas and the marina and distillery yard access road will be closed to the public through the day.

All cars must be cleared from the Isle of Harris Distillery car park by 5pm on Friday, with no overnight parking throughout the weekend.

CalMac say that they are expecting a larger amount of traffic in the area than usual and are asking ferry travellers to allow extra time for travelling to the port for check-in.

And the distillery have emphasised that the official Hearach launch event during the day and traditional cèilidh in the community centre are both private events, with those attending doing so by invitation only. 

However, for locals and visitors to the island, there's still an opportunity to get involved and be one of the first to taste The Hearach at 'fringe' events in local hotel bars, where there’ll be live music and whisky sampling from 7pm on Friday.

On Friday evening customers at the Hotel Hebrides and the Harris Hotel will enjoy music from Tosh and Costello as drams of whisky are served to the public for the first time.

On Saturday evening the Mote Bar of Hotel Hebrides will be the place to enjoy more live music as island spirit flows.

The First Release single malt will have eight batches, with 6,000 first batch bottles and 3,000 of each of the others available online and in the distillery shop from Saturday.

Bottles cost £65 and a queuing system will be operated online on launch day to help manage demand.