It’s been a while since I last visited Scotland and with the added of Covid-19 pandemic, the return to the motherland was delayed even further but eventually I got there!
In addition to visiting some old favorite distilleries, I used the opportunity to visit a new distillery that didn’t exist last time I visit Scotland – Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh.
The distillery is a joint venture between David Robertson, ex-master distiller for Macallan, and Rob and Kelly Carpenter, founders of the Canadian branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS).
The distillery is located a 15 min brisk walk from Waverley station and resides within a 180 year old building, formerly storing stuff for St Leonard’s railway station and it’s an launched arrow distance from Holyrood Park (where I climbed Arthur’s Seat in the past). The distillery started distilling in 2019 and still doesn’t have a legal single malt whisky.
The distillery was impacted from Covid-19 (like most of us) but resumed tours activity in June. I visited in early November and was really impressed from the distillery.
The tour started with their Gin, called “Height Of Arrows”, which is named for Arthur’s Seat in the Holyrood Park. which the Holyrood Distillery sits beneath. The phrase is a literal translation of the mountain’s Gaelic name, Àrd-Na-Said; standing at 251m, its height was said to be the furthest distance an archer could fire a bow. The gin is very refreshing , with greenery and spiciness.
But it was only the aperitif before going to the next floor where the whisky production resides. Starting with the barley and the process required to convert it to whisky:
I was highly impressed with the transparency and breadth of details given to the visitors. Full disclosure of the mash tun and wash backs contents:
The distillery has 2 stills running in tandem. The wash still is 5000 litres and spirit still is 3750 litres. Both stills are tall, 7 meters high, just 1 meter below the highest stills of Glenmornagie. Coupled with a short and straight lyne arm and with the bulbously shape of the stills, it forces an extra copper contact during the distillation process and the result is a clean and gentle new make.
The tour then moved on to casks – the different oak types and previous liquid impact, angels’ share – all shown and explained very clearly and in an ease to understand display.
Right now there are four new makes to taste (and buy) at the distillery and you can see how transparent are they – showing what malts and yeasts were used and long was the fermentation:
I didn’t get to taste the young aged spirit but I did taste all 4 new makes and yeah you can notice the differences between them and out of the four I went home with a bottle of the ‘Made by Edinburgh’ new make
To sum it up: A beautiful distillery and a very professional tour, covering all the bases and basics – perfect for tourists and newbies coming to Edinburgh and want to learn about Scotch whisky and have the almost full distillery experience. Highly recommended.
Name: Holyrood Distillery
Owners: Private owners
Water source: Edinburgh tap water
Stills: 1 Wash still, 1 Spirit still
Capacity (yearly): 200,000 litres
Tour in a nutshell
Tours availability: See on their site
Cost of tour: £17.50-£28
Length of tour: 1-1.5 hours
Distillery Exclusive bottles: No.