Leith biscuit factory reborn as 2nd Edinburgh Gin distillery

David Wilkinson at Edinburgh Gin's new distillery at The Biscuit Factory. Picture: Dominic Cocozza
David Wilkinson at Edinburgh Gin's new distillery at The Biscuit Factory. Picture: Dominic Cocozza
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AN old biscuit factory in Leith has been reborn as Edinburgh’s newest gin distillery – with the capacity to produce around 2.5 million gin and tonics a year.

The renovated premises on Anderson Place began operation yesterday as the second Edinburgh Gin distillery to open in the city.

Leith is steeped in history as an iconic gin port and was the centre of a home-grown spirits industry. It made perfect sense to carry on that tradition since Melrose Drover closed its doors in Edinburgh over 30 years ago, and ensure the legacy lives on.

Alex Nicol

The company’s expansion has been spurred on by the fact that Edinburgh consumes more gin per head of population than any other city in the UK, while rising global demand for the Scottish spirit has also played a part.

Leith was once one of Scotland’s most celebrated gin ports, and was renowned for influencing the development of the world-famous aromatic gin style known as London Dry.

“Leith is steeped in history as an iconic gin port and was the centre of a home-grown spirits industry,” said Alex Nicol, the co-founder of Edinburgh Gin. “It made perfect sense to carry on that tradition since Melrose Drover closed its doors in Edinburgh over 30 years ago, and ensure the legacy lives on.”

Up until last year, the former Crawford’s Biscuit Factory had been vacant for eight years, until it began being transformed into a new creative hub.

The distillery is located on the bottom floor of the building and will be open to the public occasionally. Mr Nicol added: “Leith is undoubtedly experiencing its own kind of renaissance, as is gin.

“We have transformed part of the former United Biscuit’s factory into our second distillery, in response to the international spirit revival.

“This expansion will more than quadruple our production capacity, with the new distillery producing enough spirit to make over 2.5 million G&T’s per year.”

Edinburgh Gin bosses have also signed new distribution deals in Europe, Scandinavia and North America for their core range.

The UK is already the biggest gin exporter in the world and 70 per cent of it is produced in Scotland, bringing in £1.76 billion to the UK economy. The Edinburgh Gin Distillery at the Biscuit Factory will produce the core range of gins – Original, Cannonball and the newly added Seaside Gin, which was launched for summer 2016.

Councillor Lewis Ritchie welcomed news that the distillery had begun operating. He said it would have a beneficial long-term impact on the economies of Leith and Edinburgh.

“Leith has a long and incredibly proud history of gin making and I am very pleased to hear that 30 years after Melrose Drover closed it doors this business will be coming back to Leith,” he said. “Leithers are renowned for their incredible spirit.”

He added: “The mix of new jobs and the arrival of the industry to this area will be just the tonic for the residents.”