Second barley growth trial and open day at Raasay Distillery

After 2017, the Isle of Raasay Distillery will again grow four different barley varieties and produce the mash for this first expression harvested on the island

The 2nd August 2018 will mark a historic milestone on the way to the first bottling of Isle of Raasay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. On this so-called Raasay Barley Trial Open Day, the first purely Raasay-grown malted barley will be mashed in front of the visitors. The local barley was harvested last year on a two acre field by farmer Andrew Gillies, malted at a small craft malting barn in Keith and kilned with Raasay peat from Glam in the north of the island.

Growth trials

The first barley trial on Raasay started in April 2017 and saw five varieties grown on the island. It was hoped that this would answer the question of which varieties would grow and ripen best on Raasay. It was discovered that the barley varieties Bere, Iskria and Kannas ripened successfully, and they were harvested in August last year. R&B Distillers has now started its second barley trial on Raasay to ensure that enough barley can be grown on the island in the future to produce at least one batch of Scotch whisky a year. Four varieties were selected: the Icelandic Iskria, the British Golden Promise, the Swedish Anneli and the Norwegian Brage. It is hoped that this year's trials will show an improved yield and that it will be possible to find a suitable barley variety that can grow and be harvested splendidly on the island in the future. To conduct the trials, the Scottish whisky producer will work with Peter Martin, director of the Agronomy Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and local farmer Andrew Gillies.

Open day

At the open day – the Raasay Barley Trial Open Day – the island distillery will offer expert lectures on varieties, challenges in the cultivation and growing conditions of barley, especially on the island. Co-founder of Raasay Distillery, Alasdair Day, will also explain the background and future of the project. In addition, visitors can take part in free distillery tours and visit the barley trial field to observe the progress with the four barley varieties growing there. Highlight of the one-day event on August 2 will be the mashing of the first malted barley successfully grown on Raasay at 2 pm. It is planned to produce a special batch of Raasay whisky from it. Currently on offer in the distillery's award-winning visitor centre is a single malt from a foreign Highland distillery: "While we wait".


Image: Raasay Distillery