It was a momentous occasion for distillery co-founder David Robertson who was present with staff including distillers Ollie Salvesen, Elizabeth Machin and Elliot Rogerson when the spirit began to flow and were shortly joined by founder Rob Carpenter.
Holyrood Distillery located in the St Leonards area of the city is the first operational single malt distillery in central Edinburgh since 1925 when The Edinburgh Distillery, also known as Glen Sciennes, closed.
David said: “In the last 12 months we’ve been doing the rebuilding of the distillery building, getting together the team and in the last week we’ve been doing first mashes, first fermentation and first wash distillations and we’re now doing our first spirit distillation.
“I’m very chuffed this has happened, we’ve got very tall stills so to see the spirit coming off for the first time in almost 100 years in the city centre is fantastic.”
The distillery opened on 30 July in time for the rush of visitors to Edinburgh in its busiest month and boasts 7 metre tall copper stills which, in proportion to volume, are the tallest stills in Scotland.
“We know roughly what the new spirit character is, this is the first one so it might change but it is a clean, fruity and malty spirit that’s retained a lot of its flavour from the malted barley,”
David said, “The yeast is giving it a lot of fruity character and from the tall stills we’ve got a really concentrated spirit which I think will stand a lot to maturation.
“We’ll experiment with different casks and see what works best, but we’re delighted, and big credit to Rob for the vision of it all, I’m glad to be part of the team to get it up and running.”
The small and creative distilling team is led by Jack Mayo, an astrophysicist-turned-distiller, who although had been a massive part of the process to get the spirit to this stage, was unable to be there for the occasion.
Elliot Rogerson, the newest distiller to the team said: “We’ll experiment with and create a unique flavour in the single malt which is our target and goal, in the distilling process we’re hoping to create things such as notes of plum pineapple, and tropical fruits.
“At Holyrood we can change lots of different components, from mashing to fermentation to putting them into the different casks and that’s all part of the fun, as long as we’re in the parameter of Scotch we can try everything else.
“I’ve brewed and distilled a little before but here I can make what I want to make and I’m quite proud of it, it’s all about being able to make something you care about and I’ve got the opportunity to work with a brilliant team.”
Founder Rob Carpenter came up with the idea for opening the distillery after falling in love with whisky and Edinburgh while studying for a Masters degree in Law at the University of Edinburgh in 2004.
As well as distilling single malt whisky, they also produce gin and gin liqueurs.
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