Isle of Harris Distillers appoint local school leaver as first apprentice distiller

Rebekah's new role embodies the distillery's ambition to create secure long-term employment in the Outer Hebrides.
Rebekah's new role embodies the distillery's ambition to create secure long-term employment in the Outer Hebrides.

After an island-wide search Harris Distillery have appointed local school-leaver Rebekah Morrison as their first apprentice distiller.

Rebekah’s new role embodies the distillery’s ambition to create secure long-term employment in the Outer Hebrides, particularly for young people who wish to remain in the community and set down roots of their own.

Rebekah, who lives in the village of Bowglass, said: “I really enjoyed doing my work experience at the distillery and I was keen to learn more about the process of distilling, whisky production in particular fascinates me, but It was never something I had thought would be possible for me to do, especially not here at home. When I saw the new role on social media my family gave me lots of encouragement to apply.”

Head distiller Kenny Maclean, who interviewed a wide range of candidates, was impressed by what he saw and heard from Rebekah: “It was clear how able and enthusiastic she was, not only in her approach to the work required but also to the importance of being part of a team. Combined with her positive demeanour and obvious interest in distilling, I felt she was the right person for our first apprenticeship.”

Rebekah has just begun her long journey to becoming a fully accredited distiller, taking her first steps in a craft which often takes a lifetime to fully master.

There will be much to learn along the way as she works towards a formal Spirits Industry Vocational Qualification.

She says: “Being a distiller is definitely the career path I want to pursue and I’m very excited about what the future has in store. The people and being a part of the community makes the island home for me so it’s amazing to have this chance to stay and work right here in Harris.”

Managing Director, Simon Erlanger said: “It has always been our intention to make young people central to our business because we believe this is one of the ways the distillery will help secure the island’s future.

“Since opening we have employed 10 people under 26. Rebecca will play a central role in the creation of our Isle of Harris Gin, and the production of the eagerly anticipated ‘The Hearach’ Single Malt whisky.

“We are confident that this young woman will thrive in her apprenticeship and will go on to inspire new generations of young people to remain here in the islands, carving out careers and playing their own vital role in ensuring our island’s revival as the decades go by.”