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  • Writer's pictureDiana Spencer

Arrival is just the beginning for Holyrood Distillery

Inaugral whisky

The pride and excitement are palpable at Holyrood Distillery on Friday 6 October for the launch of the distillery’s inaugural whisky, 'Arrival', one of the first single malts to be produced in the city of Edinburgh in a century.

Holyrood Distillery was established in 2019 in the former Innocent Railway terminal. Although the brand has gained a good reputation for its award-winning rum Elizabeth Yard, Height of Arrows gin, and barley spirit Charmed Circle, it was clear that Arrival is the flagship product and each of these was a step along the way to perfecting their art.

The overwhelming feeling at the Arrival launch is that this is a moment of huge satisfaction for the company and the staff, but that it is also just the beginning of an exciting new chapter.

Holyrood promises to take “bold new approaches to flavour” with a focus on innovation and experimentation, and a playful approach to ingredients and fermentation techniques. The words ‘Test, Learn, Improve, Repeat’ is in lights on the wall of the ‘the lab’ to emphasise this point, and the white boards around are covered with scribbled notes on the success, or otherwise, of the latest combination.

This experimentation is particularly apparent in the distiller’s use of different types of yeast, an area where Japanese whisky distilleries are way ahead of their Western counterparts. The team has so far experimented with 90 different recipes to find the perfect combination of yeast and says this will be an ongoing exploration.

And what about the dram itself? It is surprisingly smooth for its just three and a half years maturation, perhaps something to do with the carefully selected malts and the fact it has been aged in four different ways – in Olorosso butts, Pedro Ximenez hogsheads, bourbon barrels, and rum barriques. The flavour is long-lasting and brings to mind the best of autumn: sticky toffee pudding, ginger spice, apple pie, and red fruits.

The distillery is a fascinating and welcoming building. Drawing on its industrial heritage, but with modern sophistication, it will make a welcome addition to Edinburgh’s distilling heritage and old-town tourism.

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