Highlands & Islands

Barley trial for Raasay's first legal whisky

Site of the new distillery Image copyright R&B Distillers
Image caption A Victorian hotel is being converted into a distillery and visitor centre

Barley could be grown on Raasay for the first time in 40 years to help in the making of the island's first legal whisky.

R&B Distillers is turning Borodale House, a derelict Victorian hotel on the Isle of Raasay, into a distillery and visitor centre.

In the past, whisky was made illegally using illicit stills.

R&B Distillers is running a barley trial using five different varieties on land on Raasay, a small isle off Skye.

The variety that thrives best could then be used for making R&B Distillers' whisky.

The project involves local farmers and islanders Andrew Gillies, John Gillies and Alasdair MacAskill.

They have prepared an area of land as well as enriching the soil with lime and fertiliser.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The variety of barley that thrives best in the trial could be used in making whisky on Raasay

Expert advice for the project has also been sought from Orkney-based Dr Peter Martin, of the University of the Highland and Islands' Agronomy Institute through business academic connector, Interface.

The project has also attracted innovation funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Dr Martin has been involved in growing bere barley in Orkney.

Bere is Scotland's oldest cultivated barley and was grown on Raasay 40 years ago.

The other varieties in the trial are concerto, which is the most widely grown UK malting barley.

The pilot will also use tartan which is grown in Orkney for distilling whisky, Icelandic variety iskria and a Swedish barley called kannas.

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