CONSTRUCTION of the first whisky distillery to be built in the Capital for more than a century could begin early next year if plans for the project are approved by council chiefs.
The futuristic £5 million Port of Leith distillery complex will become the first in Scotland to use a vertical distilling process. Backers plan to open its doors in the spring of 2019 if designs for building are given the go-ahead by Edinburgh City Council.
It is hoped the project – the brainchild of Edinburgh school friends Patrick Fletcher and Ian Stirling – will provide a major economic boost to the area after the pair struck a deal with Ocean Terminal to occupy the site, next to a multi-storey car park close to the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Mr Fletcher believes the plans can “resurrect” Leith as a “national hub” for the whisky industry.
He said: “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.”
The 40-metre tall distillery building overlooking the waterfront – which would include a restaurant, bar and exhibition space – is described as a “vertical, gravity-led” structure. It will use water from the Leith Harbour as a “heat sink” for the cooling process.
The proposed site of the distillery is less than 100m from the home of the Scotch Malt Whisky society, which opened on Giles Street in 1983.
However, Leith’s links with the whisky-making industry extend much further back with the area previously home to a number of distillers including MacDonald & Muir, Bonnington’s and the Pattisons Whisky Company.
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.”