The long-awaited revival of single malt whisky distilling in Edinburgh was given a further boost today as one of the city’s best known drinks brands confirmed it plans to re-enter the market.
Crabbie’s, which is famous for producing ginger beers, will invest £7m to build a distillery at Graham Street in Leith.
The new facility will mark something of a homecoming for the firm, which was first established at a former porter brewery in Yardheads, near Great Junction Street, in the mid-19th century.
While the company has retained an office in the historic port district, production of its ginger ales was switched to Broxburn in the 1980s and later to Liverpool.
Edinburgh now has three single malt whisky distilleries at the planning stage, with a separate development planned for a site at Leith Docks and another at the former engine shed in St Leonard’s.
The last distillery in the capital producing single malt, Glen Sciennes, closed in 1925.
Crabbie’s, which is now owned by Halewood Wines & Spirits, was formerly an established whisky blender with its own bonded warehouse complex.
Founder John Crabbie gained a reputation for selecting the best casks available from over 70 distilleries from around Scotland, to sell under the Crabbie name.
His business later led to the creation of the North British grain distillery in Edinburgh, which is still thriving today.
With the decline of the Scotch Whisky industry and of the port of Leith during the 20th century, the Crabbie whisky brand disappeared like many others.
David Brown, managing director of John Crabbie & Co, said: “We are delighted to announce our plans to invest in the creation of a new distillery in Leith. It’s particularly pleasing that it will bear the name of John Crabbie, surely one of Edinburgh’s most legendary sons.
“The site we have chosen in Leith has historical links with Scotch whisky production and maturation dating back over 200 years and we hope it will contribute to the rising prosperity of the area with the creation of new jobs and through attracting additional visitors to the city. With the growing popularity of Scotch whisky around the world the time is right to rediscover the Crabbie whisky brand and to put Edinburgh firmly back on the Scotch whisky map.”
John Crabbie died in 1891. His family continued to grow the brand until its eventual sale in the 1960s, before current owners Halewood purchased it from LVMH in 2006.
The company has already marketed two single malts for sale under the Crabbie’s name ahead of the distillery opening.