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Whisky distillery to open in Edinburgh after 90-year absence

New £2m boutique micro-distillery will open in historic Edinburgh building.

Holyrood Park Distillery owner David Robertson at Engine Shed

A single malt whisky distillery will open in Edinburgh after a 90-year absence of the trade in the capital.

Councillors at the City of Edinburgh Council approved the decision to lease the historic Engine Shed building to new business Holyrood Park Distillery.

Whisky expert and former master distiller for The Macallan David Robertson is behind the £2m "boutique micro-distillery" and tourist attraction project which is now subject to a planning application.

The distillery will initially employ up to 25 staff, with the business aiming to start distilling whisky by summer 2016 and release a single malt whisky within four years.

Due to the small scale of the operation, it aims to produce 100,000 litres of alcohol per year, which will be around 250,000 bottles of mature single malt in eight to 12 years' time.

David Robertson says they are excited about the prospect of resurrecting the proud traditions of single malt whisky in Edinburgh.

He said: “The production and export of whisky is perhaps Scotland’s most iconic industry, supporting huge numbers of jobs, and visiting a distillery is a must for most visitors to Scotland.

“It seems to us that the one place missing a single malt distillery is Edinburgh, the capital of the country known for the world’s most famous whisky – Scotland.

“We hope to be able to create an immersive and entertaining visitor experience, supporting the local economy through jobs and training opportunities, while reinforcing the capital’s position as a world class tourism destination.

“Most importantly, our goal is to create beautiful, hand-crafted single malt whiskies which will stand shoulder to shoulder with the other great single malts that are now being produced in Scotland and elsewhere.

Mr Robertson added: “The Engine Shed building is the ideal location for us to realise this ambition. With its history dating back to the 1830s, it will provide a fantastic home for us to create a small, but world class distillery and tourist destination of which Edinburgh can be proud.”

Glen Sciennes was the last single malt whisky distillery to operate in Edinburgh, and was also located in the St. Leonard’s area of the city. The distillery’s maltings were sited near the Engine Shed before its closure in 1925, and later demolition.

The new Holyrood Park Distillery will be developed with a visitor experience integrated into the building's design to allow visitors to follow the distillation process from start to finish.

The distillery will also have an education facility, a restaurant and a bar with plans for a courtyard weekend market.

The Engine Shed building was built in the 1830s as a goods warehouse for the Edinburgh and Dalkeith Railway. Since 1990, it had been home to The Engine Shed charity, which provided training to adults with learning disabilities.

The building was placed on the market for lease in March 2015 and five offers were received at the closing date, which included bids from social enterprise St Leonard's Yard and charity Carr Gomm.

Cllr Alasdair Rankin, Convener of the Finance and Resources Committee, said: “The distillery will make a valuable contribution to Edinburgh’s economy and tourism sector creating up to 25 new jobs. There will also be opportunities for young workers, trades and apprenticeship training through the Edinburgh Guarantee.

"As I said at today’s Finance and Resources Committee, we will do everything we can to work with the social enterprise partnership to ensure that their valuable services, currently being delivered at the Rivers Centre, continue.”

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