Single malt whisky distilling returns to Edinburgh

27 August, 2015

Single malt whisky distilling is poised to return to Scotland’s capital after a 90 year absence, according to reports.

The City of Edinburgh Council has decided to enter into a lease with a new distillery at the Engine Shed near Holyrood Park.

Former master distiller for The Macallan, David Robertson, is said to be behind plans to open the Holyrood Park Distillery - a £2 million boutique micro-distillery and visitor experience at the Engine Shed building in the centre of the city.

The proposal is now subject to a planning application. Robertson, project lead and master distiller of the Holyrood Park Distillery, said: “We are very excited by the prospect of resurrecting the proud tradition of distilling single malt whisky in Edinburgh, following a 90 year absence of whisky distilling in the capital.

“The production and export of whisky is perhaps Scotland’s most iconic industry, supporting huge numbers of jobs, and visiting a distillery is a must for most visitors to Scotland. It seems to us that the one place missing a single malt distillery is Edinburgh, the capital of the country known for the world’s most famous whisky – Scotland.

“We hope to be able to create an immersive and entertaining visitor experience, supporting the local economy through jobs and training opportunities, while reinforcing the capital’s position as a world class tourism destination,” he said.

“Most importantly, our goal is to create beautiful, hand-crafted single malt whiskies which will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the other great single malts that are now being produced in Scotland and elsewhere. The Engine Shed building is the ideal location for us to realise this ambition. With its history dating back to the 1830s, it will provide a fantastic home for us to create a small, but world class distillery and tourist destination of which Edinburgh can be proud,” said Robertson.

The distillery will be developed with the visitor experience fully integrated into the design of the facility. Visitors will be able to follow the distillation process from start to finish, experiencing at first hand the creation of Edinburgh’s only single malt.

There are plans for it to host an education facility to be used as a community and school resource for learning about whisky distilling and the rich history of the site. Visitors will be able to eat locally sourced food and drink at an on-site restaurant and bar and ambitions stretch to establishing a weekend market for local crafts and products in the courtyard.

Robertson says the distillery will initially employ up to 25 staff and the business aims to start distilling whisky by next summer. Then release a single malt whisky within four years. It will produce only 100,000 litres of alcohol per year, resulting in around 250,000 bottles of mature single malt in 8 to 12 years’ time.
Edinburgh has a long history of whisky production. Back in the late 1700s there were eight licensed distilleries and it is estimated that there may have been as many as 400 illegal stills in Edinburgh.

Glen Sciennes was believed to be the last single malt whisky distillery to operate in Edinburgh. The distillery’s maltings were sited near the Engine Shed before its closure in 1925 and later demolition.

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