Holyrood Distillery has opened its doors to bring single malt whisky distilling back to the centre of Edinburgh for the first time in almost 100 years.
Earlier this week, founder Rob Carpenter and his team gathered to unveil their distillery and welcome the very first visitors for one of their daily guided tour experiences.
Holyrood Distillery, which cost £6.7m and has created around 30 jobs, is the first operational single malt distillery in central Edinburgh since 1925 when The Edinburgh Distillery (aka Glen Sciennes) closed.
The distillery, which also produces a range of gins and gin liqueurs, offers daily guided tours throughout the year and is set to become a major visitor attraction in Edinburgh for both tourists and locals.
Located on the edge of Holyrood Park and close to popular Edinburgh Festival Fringe venues The Pleasance and George Square, the new distillery is within easy walking distance of the city’s main attractions, including The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is also a short walk or bus ride from Waverley Station.
Until today, the nearest malt whisky distillery has been Glenkinchie, which sits around 15 miles away from the city centre. Now visitors can, for the first time in 94 years, explore a working whisky distillery in the heart of the city.
The distillery, which has been built in a 3-storey Class B Listed former railway goods shed dating back to 1831, will focus on the creation of maximum flavour in all the spirits it produces. Using innovative production approaches, such as a complex combination of yeasts and a unique selection of different types and styles of malted barley, it will initially produce four core flavours of whisky – smoky; sweet; spicy; and fruity/floral.
Spirit production will be handled by distillery manager Jack Mayo, previously of The Glasgow Distillery, alongside distillers Ollie Salvesen and Elizabeth Machin. The whisky is distilled using two exceptionally tall stills – at 7m tall, they are the tallest stills in Scotland in proportion to their volume.
Holyrood Distillery is the notion of Canadian Rob Carpenter who, in 2013, first had the idea for a distillery and visitor experience in central Edinburgh. Rob, who founded the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society together with his wife Kelly, has brought his vision to life in partnership with co-founder David Robertson, who has 25 years’ experience in the industry.
To fund the project, Carpenter and his team raised £5.8m of investment. This included a £1.5m investment from the Scottish Investment Bank, the largest single investor, and investments from about 60 private individuals from around the world.
Holyrood Distillery’s founder Rob Carpenter said: “After all the hard work of the team, it’s a really special moment to now see Holyrood Distillery open, and we’re looking forward to creating a range of delicious whiskies, gins, liqueurs and other spirits.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this project throughout its evolution for their hard work and passion – and especially all our local neighbours for bearing with us during the construction process.
“This distillery is open to everyone, whether you’re a local resident or you’re just visiting the city for a day. We’ve worked hard to create a series of tours that are both fun and informative so they appeal to a wide range of visitors, from connoisseurs of whisky and gin to those who are simply curious to learn more about these spirits for the first time. Our guides are very excited to get started so please come by and visit us.”
Kerry Sharp, director of the Scottish Investment Bank, said: “I’m pleased that our investment has supported the development, by an outstanding team, of this new distillery and visitor experience in Scotland’s capital.
“Tourism supports more than 30,000 jobs in Edinburgh, with more than £1m per day being spent on food and drink – and Holyrood Distillery is a fantastic addition to both these sectors. We look forward to working more with the team going forward, helping them to maximise the full potential of the attraction.”