Construction of the first purpose-built whisky distillery in Edinburgh for more than a century could begin in early 2018 if plans for the £5 million complex are approved by city planning chiefs.
Developers say the Port of Leith distillery could “resurrect” whisky-making in the Leith area of the city if designs for the unique building near the mooring site of the Royal Yacht Britannia are given the go-ahead.
The 40-metre high distillery building overlooking the waterfront – which includes a restaurant, bar and exhibition space – is described as a “vertical, gravity-led” structure and will use water from the Leith Harbour as a “heat sink” for the cooling process.
It will also become the only distillery in Scotland to employ a ‘vertical distilling process’ when it opens in the spring of 2019, if current plans progress. The proposed site is less than a hundred metres from the home of the Scotch Malt Whisky society, which opened on Giles Street in 1983.
Distillery founder Patrick Fletcher believes the plans can “resurrect” Leith as a “national hub” for the whisky industry.
He said: “Leith was once the national hub for the Scotch industry and it’s really exciting to be restarting that tradition.
“Our business will boost the local economy by drawing more tourists and residents down to the harbour and providing many new jobs.
“Leith has been on the up for many years and we’re really excited to be building where we are, right in the heart of the docks.
“Hopefully the quality of our building’s architecture will encourage more investment in the area.”
Leith’s links with the whisky-making industry extend as far back as the late 18th century, with the opening of the Bonnington’s distillery in 1789, before merging with several other distillers 40 years later.
The area was also home to MacDonald & Muir, William Sanderson & Sons and the Pattisons Whisky Company - which later became famous for its use of colourful advertising campaigns.
The Port of Leith distillery will have a production volume of 400,000 litres of pure alcohol per year and are developing a partnership with Heriot Watt University’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling in order to facilitate their own unique product development and research programme.
A spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association said: “We’re delighted by what is an encouraging trend of new Scotch Whisky distilleries being opened and planned, supporting jobs and investment across Scotland.”