Work starts on £12m Scotch whisky distillery

Construction of the new £12 million (US$16m) Port of Leith Distillery in Edinburgh has begun after initially being delayed by the pandemic, with the site due to open in 2022.

Plans for the Scotch whisky distillery were first unveiled by childhood friends Ian Stirling and Patrick Fletcher in March 2017. It is thought to be the first in the Scottish district of Leith for more than a century. The site was originally due to begin construction in January 2019, with the distillery expected to be up and running by autumn 2020.

The distillery was then scheduled to commence construction at the start of this year, however the Covid-19 pandemic delayed its plans.

“We have always been passionate about whisky and it’s been a long-held dream for us to create an amazing, modern Scotch whisky distillery in our home city,” said Stirling. “It began 10 years ago as a mad idea over a dram when we were working together in London and it grew from there.”

The Port of Leith Distillery will be built in Edinburgh’s port district beside Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre and The Royal Yacht Britannia. The site will feature a whisky bar on the top floor with views of Edinburgh Castle. It will also house two copper stills with the capacity to produce up to one million bottles of single malt whisky annually.

Stirling added: “Our ambition is to create an outstanding new style of Scotch using a modern approach, based on years of research we have already undertaken – and building on the remarkable heritage of the historic whisky district of Leith.”

The £12m project has been funded by a combination of global private investors and whisky fans, including two unnamed drinks industry CEOs.

The construction of the site created 30 jobs – including six staff in the distillery team – and will generate around 50 long-term jobs once complete.

The Port of Leith Distillery’s inaugural spirit, Lind and Lime Gin, was released in November 2018 and is now available in 14 markets across the world. The producer’s range, which also includes a Sherry and a Port, is currently made at Tower Street Stillhouse close to the future distillery’s site in Leith.

Fletcher said: “Lockdown had an impact on our build programme and of course has made us look hard at our tourism projections, but in contrast Lind & Lime online [sales] has flourished.

“It has been really important for us to learn how to make and market our own spirit and build relationships with suppliers. Our Sherry comes from Bodegas Baron – a 480-year-old family business in the heart of Jerez, and we will use their barrels to mature our own whisky, when the time comes.”

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Author: Nicola Carruthers

Timothy Kelly

Tim is the Founder & Master Distiller at Felene. He developed his passion for the spirits and hospitality business while growing-up and working in his family's restaurant and liquor store business. Tim’s passion for the epicurean lifestyle has found it’s latest manifestation in the Felene Distillery. Tim is a 5-time Gold Medal Award winning Distiller. He has won a Platinum medal at the Prestigious Los Angeles Spirits Awards and his signature vodka was named Best-in-Category by the American Distilling Institute. Mr. Kelly is also a prolific author and writer and his blog is filled with ideas, discoveries, observations and recommendations to help his readers enjoy life’s simple epicurean pleasures.

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