Pop up gin bar provides the perfect tonic

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Two award-winning Hebridean success stories will provide the perfect mix for music fans during one of the highlights of the islands’ calendar.

With the 21st Hebridean Celtic Festival just four weeks away, a festival shop will open on Monday (20 June) in the centre of Stornoway for festival ticket enquiries and merchandise.

The premises will be open from 10am-5pm Monday-Saturday.

An ideal accompaniment for the music event will come during festival week when a ‘pop-up’ Isle of Harris Gin outlet will set up inside the shop at 49-51 Cromwell Street from 11 July.

It will be the first time Isle of Harris Distillery has established a shop outside its base in Tarbert, which opened last October and has quickly become a favourite producer amongst aficionados in the burgeoning craft gin market.

Caroline Maclennan, director of HebCelt, which runs from 13-16 July, said: “Isle of Harris Distillery gin has enjoyed remarkable success in just a few months and we are delighted it has chosen the festival shop to set up its first outlet outside Harris. I’m sure it will be a huge attraction for festival goers.

“Not only is the gin extremely popular, the company’s ‘social distillery’ aim fits well with the festival ethos of supporting the islands economy and community.”

The Isle of Harris Distillery launched with ten staff, but its popular gin, infused with locally-harvested sugar kelp, has seen it grow significantly and its 24th member of staff started last week, with all posts filled by island residents, mostly young people. Last month it welcomed around 7,800 visitors to the premises.

At the pop-up shop staff will sell the distinctive tipple and offer samples, while tasting sessions will be held at Julie’s Bar in the festival arena at 3pm, 4pm and 5.30pm on Friday 15 July and 3pm and 4pm on Saturday 16 July.

In addition, a cookery demonstration, using Isle of Harris gin in some recipes, will be set up at the distillery on Friday.

Shona Macleod, the distillery’s guest manager, said: “We are excited about linking up with HebCelt which is such a renowned, international event and one that has been very supportive of the distillery’s aims.

“HebCelt and Isle of Harris gin is a great combination.

“As the ‘social distillery’ we like to share the building with the community and we are pleased to offer HebCelt use of our outdoor space for a food and drink feature during this year’s festival as part of our partnership.”