Edinburgh malt whisky set for return after more than 90 years

An artists impression of plans for the Holyrood Park Distillery on the site of the former Engine Shed. Picture: Contributed
An artists impression of plans for the Holyrood Park Distillery on the site of the former Engine Shed. Picture: Contributed
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SINGLE malt whisky could be distilled in the Capital for the first time in more than 90 years if ambitious new plans get the go-ahead.

Proposals to transform the former Engine Shed site into a £3.6 million malt whisky distillery and visitor attraction – reviving a long-forgotten Edinburgh tradition – have been submitted to the council.

The move comes after city chiefs entered into a lease with the Holyrood Park Distillery in August last year, paving the way for a single malt to be produced in the city for the first time since Glen Sciennes closed in 1925.

The business, which aims to start distilling in 2017, will initially make only 53,000 litres of alcohol per year – resulting in around 140,000 bottles of mature single malt in eight to 12 years’ time.

Bosses say the scheme will provide 25 jobs at varying levels, from trainees right up to experienced distillery operators, tourism and production managers.

Whisky expert David Robertson, the former master distiller for Macallan, is behind the plans.

He said: “We are very excited by the prospect of resurrecting the proud tradition of distilling single malt whisky in Edinburgh.

“We have submitted plans which outline our vision to bring single malt whisky distilling back to Edinburgh and have worked closely with local residents and businesses to build a proposal that we hope will benefit the community as well as Edinburgh as a whole.

“Our vision is to create beautiful, hand-crafted spirits and 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.”

Edinburgh boasts a long 
history of whisky production. In the late 1700s, there were eight licensed distilleries – and as many as 400 illegal stills.

Urban production fell out of fashion but is now enjoying something of a boom, with distilleries popping up in the likes of New York, London and Los Angeles.

Glen Sciennes, which was also located in the St Leonard’s area, was the last single malt whisky distillery to operate in the city. Its maltings were sited near the Engine Shed.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com