| Emily Weall

Meet Iain Robertson, head distiller at the R&B Distillery

After 18 months under construction, whisky production is underway at the first (legal) distillery on the Isle of Raasay.
The Sybarite spoke to Iain Robertson, distiller at the Raasay Distillery, about life on the island and the pressures surrounding his new role.

Between the beer and whisky tastings, Iain studied Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. During his studies, Iain took a placement at North British grain distillery and worked at Edinburgh’s The Scotch Whisky Experience as one of their highly knowledgeable tour guides. Iain is not only formally educated in the art and science of distilling but is innovative and enthusiastic about respectfully pushing the boundaries of the spirit. Relocating to a Scottish island to make whisky may sound like a wistful fantasy but Iain suggests that it is never too late to move into a career that interests you and take up a distilling course.

The transition between full-time university study and working on Raasay ran smoothly from Iain. He applied for this unique job when entering into his fourth and final year of study. This lead to trying to fit interviews in between his classes and lectures, with the final interview taking place just after his last exam. Just before his graduation in July 2017, Iain was offered the job and immediately took the plunge moving up to the Raasay, keen to start his new career.

Iain is not feeling the pressure just yet, he says that his new role ‘still hasn’t sunk in’ and for now, Iain is just enjoying being a part of this exciting company, as he said ‘getting offered this job was a great opportunity’ but when it comes to actually bottling the scotch, the pressures will kick in’.

With production now underway, the distillery will open to the public in November with tours available for visitors. Iain explains that although the process of making the spirit is fairly quick: it takes about a week to go through all of the different stages, from milling through to spirit distillation, the law states that maturation of the scotch takes three years, so first Raasay Scotch will not be ready to drink until 2020. Visitors will be able to take purchase souvenirs to take home including bottles of Raasay While We Wait, the aptly christened, lightly peated single malt crafted by R&B Distillers as a tantalising taster of the flavours of what’s to come from Raasay.




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