Edinburgh’s whisky distilleries are an important part of the Lowland Scotch Whisky Region.
There was a long period when there were no malt whisky distilleries in Edinburgh.
However, the opening of the Port of Leith Distillery and the Holyrood Distillery has, quite literally, changed the city’s landscape.
The Holyrood Distillery
The Holyrood Distillery was the first single malt whisky distillery in Edinburgh for nearly a century.
Complete with Courtyard Bar, with a great view of Arthur’s Seat, the distillery has a very impressive award-winning visitor centre and offers a range of guided distillery tours, masterclasses and whisky tastings.
A spokesperson said, “We are creating a historically inspired, yet totally new style of whisky. Local malts, Edinburgh yeast. And very special casks.”
While waiting for the new range of Holyrood malt whiskies to mature in Spanish oak sherry casks, the distillery has created a range of special cask offerings for investors.
Visiting: for a full range of visitor information go to the official Holyrood Distillery website.
The Bonnington Distillery
The Bonnington Distillery filled its first casks in its new Leith, Edinburgh distillery in March 2020.
The company markets its single malt Scotch whisky under the Crabbie brand, now owned by Halewood Artisanal Spirits.
The venerable Crabbie & Co, a heritage brand – a well-known name in the Leith based whisky business – has a history dating to the early days of the 19th century.
Today Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine is the company’s most recognisable product although that will undoubtedly change over time.
Currently, the Bonnington Distillery has no visitor centre or distillery tours.
Crabbie’s has released several independent bottlings from different Scotch Whisky Regions which are available to buy from a number of stockists. They include:
- Yardhead single malt
- Crabbie 12 year old – Speyside Edition
- Crabbie 15 year old Highland Single Malt
- Crabbie 8 year old
- Crabbie 12 year old – Island Edition
- Visiting: for a full range of visitor information go to the official Bonnington Distillery website.
Port of Leith Distillery
The Port of Leith Distillery, after what seemed like a long process of planning and construction, is now officially open for business.
Committed to sustainability. this newest of Edinburgh whisky distilleries is located in Leith, the port of Edinburgh.
This unique vertical distillery sits next to the Royal Yacht Britannia, one of Edinburgh’s most popular visitor attractions.
A company spokesperson said “We wedged our distillery tower into Edinburgh’s historic harbour to make our building as accessible as possible to people who, like us, love whisky.”
The Port of Leith Distillery is home to a visitor centre, which has a gift shop and bar that serves a tempting range of small plates.
- Currently, the distillery offers a Port of Leith Tour and Tasting experience which lasts around 90 minutes.
- In addition, there are a variety of private tour and event options.
The distillery is owned by Leith-based Muckle Brig Ltd which also owns the nearby Lind and Lime one of Edinburgh’s best-known gin distilleries.
- For more information visit the Port of Leith distillery official website.
North British Distillery
A group of independent blenders including Andrew Usher and John Crabbie founded Edinburgh’s North British Distillery in 1885.
However, perhaps inevitably, both World Wars and other ‘difficulties’ affected production in the early years.
Turn the clock forward and today’s joint owners are the multinational Edrington Group and Diageo owner of the Johnnie Walker brand, amongst many other well-known names.
North British is a grain distiller and maturation business which means that although they do not bottle under their own name, their product is used in the production of some of Scotland’s best-known blended whisky.
It means that if you are a fan of blended whisky you may have tried North British grain whisky without realising it.
North British Distillery’s story is a fascinating one, an important part of Edinburgh’s Scotch whisky heritage.
- While there are no distillery tours, you can find out more about the business on the company’s official website.
Glenkinchie: whisky distillery near Edinburgh
Glenkinchie Distillery sits within a beautifully landscaped garden and is 15 miles from Edinburgh in Pencaitland, East Lothian. This Diageo owned distillery is the Lowland home of Johnnie Walker.
The original distillery founded in 1825 by brothers John and George Rate was renamed Glenkinchie in 1837.
In 1914 Glenkinchie established Scottish Malt distillers with four other Lowland distilleries.
In 1988, Glenkinchie 10 year old was chosen as one of six in the Classic Malt series
- The water source is the Lammermuir Hills Spring
- Capacity is 2.5m LPA (2020)
- Maturation – mainly ex-bourbon casks some on site
- Floor malting until 1968 – now lightly peated malt from various sources.
- Visiting: for a full range of current information go to the official Port of Leith Distillery website.
Glenkinchie Visitor Centre
In 2020, a new multi-million-pound visitor centre opened at Glenkinchie, which is just a few miles outside Edinburgh, offering an innovative, interactive and sensory experience for visitors.
With a bar area overlooking the garden, visitors can enjoy local specialities served with a dram, in beautiful surroundings.
The core range includes a Distillers Edition, and 12-year-old, and 16-year-old from the Four Corners of Scotland Collection.
Visiting: for a full range of visitor information go to the official Glenkinchie Distillery website.
Located within a large industrial warehouse in Sighthill Edinburgh, the Sweetdram distillery is not your average Edinburgh whisky distillery.
Perhaps best described as a small craft producer, Sweetdram is primarily recognised for its whisky including its own Sweetdram blend which they describe as “somewhere between Scotch and a round, complex bourbon.”
They also have a small selection of independently bottled single malt Scotch whiskies.
One of their most popular offerings is a whisky-based amaro, a blend of malt and grain whiskies infused with botanicals and honey.
In addition, they make a very nice smoked spiced rum and a variety of cocktails including some Escubac based ones.
This adventurous business has garnered a following among whisky enthusiasts who appreciate their innovative approach to whisky production.
Opportunities for a distillery tour are occasionally available.
Several Edinburgh whisky shops stock Sweetdram’s products.
Intrigued? Visit the Sweetdram Edinburgh distillery website for more information.
Other Lowland whisky distilleries are within travelling distance of Edinburgh.
- Bladnoch Distillery
- Auchentoshan Distillery
- Kingsbarns Distillery
- Borders Distillery
Gin distilleries in Edinburgh
- There are a number of gin distilleries in Edinburgh including some of the city’s whisky distilleries which also produce gin and other spirits. Truly Edinburgh’s Gin Page has a list.
- Gin bars in Edinburgh