Quite simply, without Orkney, there would be no Highland Park. It’s thanks to the unique geography and climate of these islands that our whisky tastes the way it does, so we never take our environmental heritage for granted. In the same way that we see ourselves as custodians of our distillery, so we have a responsibility to be custodians of the land that supports us. Over the summer season, our distillery team got involved in some important community projects.
For peat’s sake
The presence of the RSPB in Orkney is critical and we work together, doing what we can to sustain the peatland and protect the fragile ecosystems it supports. A productive day out on Black Moss of Evrigert – an area of degraded peatland – saw the team create dams and flow reduction features using huge coir ‘sausages’. We’re reliably informed that the biggest challenge wasn’t strenuous digging but transporting the sausages over half a mile of rough, boggy terrain!
A small team from the Distillery also worked with staff from the RSPB to undertake some wildflower meadow haymaking at the Ring of Brodgar. The aim is to promote insect activity (and particularly bees) next year and we’ll look forward to seeing and hearing the results.
And another project that’s due to bear fruit next year is the Rose Garden Project. Working with the Community Trust for Arcadia Park and CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) Orkney, some significant hard landscaping took place, paving the way for an area that should be in full bloom in 2022 – watch this space!
Kittiwakes, corncrakes and wisecracks
Displaying skills acquired before joining the Distillery, some members of our Team cleared the hide and surrounding areas at St Andrews Community Centre, repairing sections of dry-stone walling and buttresses out at the Marwick Head Nature Reserve, described by the RSPB as ‘a spectacular seabird city’ where guillemot, razorbill, kittiwake, fulmar and purple sandpiper are the ‘star’ species.
Other projects undertaken to support the RSPB included clearing the access points at Rackwick, clearing invasive salmonberry on Rousay (a hideous job by all accounts) and building shelters to promote growth of vegetation for the endangered corncrakes on Egilsay. Everyone was surprised by the size of these shelters compared to the size of the birds and there were various wisecracks about sheep shelters… but the whole team is looking forward to hearing if their work reaps rewards next season.