DRINKS industry veteran Alex Nicol is to open a gin distillery in the heart of Edinburgh in what he thinks may be the start of a rebirth of the industry in the city.
Nicol, whose career has been spent mainly with Whitbread, Scottish & Newcastle and Whyte & Mackay, is moving production of Edinburgh Gin to a former nightclub in the basement of The Huxley bar in the city’s west end.
He launched his Spencerfield Spirit Company in 2005, producing two whiskies which have gained a foothold in Australia, France and the United States.
Since adding Edinburgh Gin three years ago, turnover has grown sharply to £1.7 million and is expected to hit £2.2m this year. He is now producing 27,000 cases of whisky and gin.
“It has changed the nature of the business by adding a new dimension,” said Nicol, 59, whose business is a family affair. His wife Jane is the company secretary while daughters Harriet and Hannah are involved in events management.
The new distillery, opening in May, will have a bar, visitor centre and private dining room. Nicol initially financed the venture himself but now has a Clydesdale Bank overdraft and a hire purchase deal with Lombard Finance.
The Edinburgh Gin distillery will be the second in the city this year. Summerhall distillery, which produces Pickering’s Gin, will launch on Thursday. In the 18th century, Edinburgh was home to about 40 gin distilleries. A project into reviving the industry is under way at Heriot-Watt University.