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Whisky meets lager with the barrel-aged beer makers

Harviestoun whisky lager

Harviestoun Brewery, one of our favourite booze makers, has led the way in barrel-ageing beers. Following the success of ‘Ola Dubh’ – made from ageing the brewery’s porter ‘Old Engine Oil’ in Highland Park whisky barrels – they’ve launched a limited edition barrel-aged lager. ‘Orach Slie’ uses casks from Speyside distillery Glenfarclas to age a lager, producing a light and slightly sweet 6% beer. We caught up with Marketing manager Ewan McCowen to find a little bit more about their barrel-ageing plans…

Your latest barrel-aged product is ‘Orach Sile’ – a variant of your Schiehallion Craft Lager matured in whisky casks from the Glenfarclas Distillery. How did this collaboration come about?
A combination of the right beer in the right cask and a shared approach to business and craftsmanship. Glenfarclas are a lovely distillery making great whisky for an avid fanbase. I think we each recognised a shared purpose in the other!

What qualities have the casks given to the lager?
A lovely, gentle, honied Speyside maltiness.

How would you best enjoy a bottle of Orach Sile?
Me personally? I see me drinking it on a summer’s evening as the sun goes down. Maybe it’s a slightly special occasion… perhaps some friends are visiting from out of town… someone’s popped a bottle of sparkling wine but I want a beer option to suit the occasion.

Scottish whisky is big business around the world. Has there been much global interest in your whisky-tinged beers?
Most of what we produce goes to export. The USA is a big market as is Brazil. Basically you’re likely to find our barrel-aged beers anywhere the craft beer revolution is kicking off or in full swing.

You seem to have conjured beer names that are quite unpronounceable to the English (and elsewhere). How about a few pronunciation pointers so we don’t embarrass ourselves next time we’re drinking in Scotland?
Be bold! Pronounce the names in any way you wish with absolute confidence are you’re likely to be able to brazen it out!

But for readers who don’t want to do that, the ‘bh’ in Ola Dubh is meant to be silent in Scots Gaelic (I believe it’s a ‘v’ sound in Irish Gaelic), so at the brewery we say ‘ola-doo’.

Orach Slie has the tricky ‘x’ sound as in ‘loch’ (an unvoiced uvular fricative pronounced near the back of the throat, if you must know!). But if you want to make it a hard ‘k’ sound (as in ‘lock’) then most people will forgive you!

Have you got any more interesting cask collaborations lined up in the future?
Taking receipt of some new casks next week! We’ll see how the trials go, but we’re extremely optimisitic!

To find out more about Harviertoun’s beers and order a bottle or two visit their website at

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