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UK’s first vertical distillery looking up after appointing Head of Whisky

Vaibhav Sood (Port of Leith Distillery)

THE UK’s first vertical whisky distillery, Port of Leith, has appointed its Head of Whisky as it prepares to turn on its stills and open its doors to the public. 

Vaibhav Sood, previously Operations Manager at The Lakes Distillery, has taken on the newly created role, marking a significant milestone for the £13m nine-storey distillery, which is due to open later this year in Leith’s historic port. 

As well as tours, tastings, and a top floor mezzanine bar with panoramic views of Leith and Edinburgh, Port of Leith Distillery will produce up to one million bottles of premium whisky per year, harnessing locally grown barley, years of research into yeast and fermentation, and casks procured from premium producers in Spain, Portugal and the USA. 

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Anticipated figures indicate that the distillery will attract 25,000 visitors in its first year, with projections soaring to 160,000 annual visitors by 2025.

Commenting on his appointment, Vaibhav said: 

“Joining the iconic Scotch whisky industry was always a dream of mine, and immersing myself in a distillation process as unique as Port of Leith is already proving to be an incredible experience.

“Alongside getting to work with such a dedicated, passionate and forward thinking team, I’m honoured to be leading in all aspects of whisky making as we work towards bringing our new world class single malt to people across the globe.” 

Vaibhav’s role is just one of  50 long term local jobs that will be created by the distillery in the coming year. 

Paddy Fletcher, Co-Founder of Port of Leith Distillery, said:

“Vaibhav’s appointment is a huge step forward for us as we look towards starting production in the next couple of months.

“Already, he has been instrumental in streamlining elements of our production process, spearheading our wood management program and recruiting for our Whisky Operations team and we look forward to his input in creating our exceptional new wave whisky.” 

Port of Leith Distillery is the latest long term investment in Leith by co-owners and lifelong friends Ian Stirling and Paddy Fletcher, following the opening of the new Lind & Lime Gin Distillery in May 2022, a brand they launched in 2018 from a tiny industrial unit. 

The eco-friendly gin distillery  – which is powered by 100% green electricity – has since welcomed more than 6,000 visitors to its tasting, bottling and cocktail making tours, with numbers set to increase to a forecasted 15,000 visitors annually this year.

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