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Distillery Visit: Holyrood Distillery guided by Calum Rae

2024.07.08 / 最終更新日:2024.07.08

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is known for its rich history and culture. However, Scotland’s most visited and loved city did not have a whisky distillery for nearly a century, despite the fact that whisky is the most popular spirit in its culture.

In 2019, the absence of a whisky distillery in Edinburgh finally came to an end with the establishment of Holyrood Distillery.

Calum Rae, the Distillery Manager of Holyrood Distillery, led us through the whisky-making process at the distillery. We will also share an interview with Calum, who will discuss the history, experimental house style, and perspectives of the distillery. If you want to know more about Holyrood Distillery, make sure to check our interview article too.

Check out this article too!

About Holyrood Distillery

What is Holyrood Distillery?

Holyrood Distillery is the first single malt distillery to be built in the city centre of Edinburgh for nearly a century. It was founded in 2019 by a Canadian couple, Rob and Kelly Carpenter and David Robertson, a former Master Distiller of The Macallan.

Rob and Kelly had previously co-founded the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, but their dream was always to build a distillery in the heart of Edinburgh.

Holyrood Distillery is known for its experimental and creative approach to whisky-making, using different malts and yeast worldwide. Their motto, “Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.” sums up their dedication to constantly enhancing their craft.

Despite being a small-scale, young distillery, they have won several awards for their high-quality whiskies and spirits.

Holyrood Distillery

Basic information

Company’s Name The Holyrood Distillery Ltd.
Year of Establishment 2019
Founders Rob Carpenter, Kelly Carpenter, David Robertson
Location Holyrood Distillery, 19 St Leonard’s Lane, Edinburgh. EH8 9SH, United Kingdom
Official Website Holyrood Distillery(Official Website)

Access

Holyrood Distillery is located in the heart of Edinburgh making it the most accessible whisky distillery in Scotland.

It is just a 15-minute walk from the Royal Mile, known as one of the city’s most popular attractions. Moreover, it is easily accessible from the city centre and Edinburgh Waverley station.

If you prefer to use public transport, you can take Lothian Buses Number 14 and get off at Rankeillor Street. From there, it’s just a 2-minute walk to reach the distillery.
The distillery does not provide public parking. However, blue badge holders/registered disabled vehicles are allowed to pick up and drop off in the courtyard area. They also have several bike racks on site.

Holyrood Distillery’s Products

Whisky ‘ARRIVAL’

Since the distillery was established only five years ago, its selection of whisky is limited.

However, its whiskies and other spirits have achieved notable success since their release. For example, ‘ARRIVAL’, Holyrood Distillery’s first released single malt whisky won the World Whiskies Awards 2024 – Scotch Lowlands/No Age Statement category.

Name ARRIVAL
Tasting notes Nose:Dried fruit, tropical fruit, raisins, hint of butterscotch, fresh baked cake, sticky toffee pudding, soft leather, biscuit.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, vanilla, digestive biscuits, ginger spice, butterscotch, tablet, slight savoury salinity, raisins.
Finish: Long lasting, mouth-watering, juicy, sweet spice, delicate, fruity, apple pie, red fruit.
Price £67.00
Information ARRIVAL: Holyrood Distillery official website

Holyrood’s first release ‘ARRIVAL’ (Source: ARRIVAL: Holyrood Distillery official website)

Holyrood’s second release ‘EMBRA’

This spring, Holyrood Distillery has released its second single malt whisky ‘EMBRA’. Holyrood’s Distillery Manager, Calum, introduces EMBRA as follows.
“The mindset for Embra was to set the stage for an exploration into peated whisky. Edinburgh is the gateway to Scotland for many people and this is the idea at the heart of this spirit. We wanted to find the perfect balance of bold smoky flavours and textures of peated whisky while still being accessible to a new whisky drinker. When someone says they don’t like peated whisky, this is the whisky to hand to them. That doesn’t mean there isn’t something for the seasoned peated drinkers as we have all of the hallmark flavours and textures of a great whisky.”

Name EMBRA
Tasting notes Nose:Lemon zest, horse chestnut pith, hints of peppermint and light hickory smoke.
Palate: Wafer biscuits, dark chocolate mousse, notes of earthy Highland peat smoke.
Finish: Light stewed pears, with a well rounded clean finish.
Price £67.00
Information EMBRA: Holyrood Distillery official website

Holyrood’s second release ‘EMBRA’ (Source: EMBRA: Holyrood Distillery official website)

New make

The effects of the experimental house style is notably reflected in the new make.

Since the new make does not receive any influence from the cask, the usage of unique malts and yeast stands out and insists on the flavour. Holyrood’s new make has a wide range in the lineup, and it is gaining a high reputation for its quality.

Holyrood new makes

Other spirits

Holyrood Distillery is known for producing not only whiskies and new makes but also an array of other spirits, including gin, rum, and vodka. Their reputation for creating high-quality spirits extends beyond their whiskies and new makes. In particular, their gin, ‘Height of Arrows,’ is exceedingly popular due to its diverse range of flavours and exceptional quality.

Holyrood’s gin, ‘HEIGHT OF ARROWS’

Visiting the Distillery

Calum Rae

Calum Rae, the Distillery Manager of Holyrood Distillery, showed us around the distillery.

After working as a sound engineer, he jumped into the whisky industry as a packing assistant at Eden Mill Distillery, and this experience gave him an interest in diving deep into the world of whisky. After working as a distillery tour guide and assistant brewer at Eden Mill Distillery, he began his career as a distiller at Holyrood Distillery. His background in the music industry influenced his creativity, which gave him his passion for whisky making.

Calum shared the spirit and philosophy of whisky making at Holyrood Distillery, which will be revealed in the interview article. If you want to explore Calum and Holyrood Distillery further, make sure to check out the interview article!

Check out this article too!

Calum Rae, Distillery Manager of Holyrood Distillery

Distillery tour

Holyrood Distillery offers various distillery tour packages that cater to visitors with different levels of knowledge about whisky.

The distillery’s structure is designed to entertain guests, and they take great care in ensuring that tours and visits are enjoyable.

A wheelchair friendly lift, rarely found in distilleries, welcomes all visitors

Journey to Whisky Tour

About  Conversational and tasting-led, your tour takes you through the detailed processes of our single malt whisky production. Learn how we push the boundaries of what it means to be a modern whisky producer with our experimental approach to flavour, with samples provided throughout.
Time Needed 1 hour
Prices Adults – £29
Booking Official website booking page

Pot stills at Holyrood Distillery

Holyrood Distillery Tour

About  Our signature guided tour will take you through our gin and whisky production spaces, explaining the processes behind making our award-winning Height of Arrows gin and our single malt whiskies. Get to know our spirits with sample tastings throughout your tour.
Duration 1 hour
Price Adults – £22
Students – £20
Children – £15
EH Resident Rate – £20
Groups of 10pax+ – £19.80
Enhanced Tasting Flight Ticket – £33
Booking Official website booking page

Holyrood’s mash tun

Distillery’s Whisky Making Process

Malts & Yeast

Calum:
At Holyrood Distillery, we source our malts from Crisp Malt, a British malting company. Our selection includes traditional distilling malt as well as unique malts like chocolate and black malt.

We’ve also experimented with various types of yeast, such as Tequila yeast, Mexican Lager yeast, and Japanese Sake yeast.

The recipe of malts is written on the blackboard

Mashing & Fermentation

Calum:
On this floor, you can see two mash tuns and three washbacks. We do the mashing and fermentation here, but we also have the same equipment beneath, which means we actually have four mash tuns and six washbacks in total. Our standard fermentation time is around 52 hours, but this could vary from 48 hours to 168 hours, depending on the type of yeast used.

Mash tuns and wash backs

Distillation

Calum:
Our distillery boasts one of the tallest stills in Scotland, which is uniquely shaped to fit in a small building. Generally, tall stills produce light and smooth whisky. However, by running it hard, they can also create heavy and oily spirits.

The large sight glass, installed in a low position, enables the visitors to learn the process of whisky distillation.

Iconic pot stills of Holyrood Distillery

Maturation

Calum:
At our distillery, we have a unique display warehouse that is the final stop of our tour. Unlike other distilleries, our warehouse is not located on the same site as the distillery.

However, to give our guests a complete whisky experience, we have set up a display warehouse where they can enjoy the ambience and atmosphere of a whisky warehouse.

One of our key advantages in whisky maturation is that we source our sherry casks directly from Spanish suppliers. This is due to one of our founders, David Robertson, who was previously the master distiller at Macallan Distillery, which is well known for its usage of sherry casks.

Display warehouse

At Last

Despite being a relatively new player in the whisky making industry, Holyrood Distillery has already achieved great success in not only whisky production but also in producing other spirits such as gin and rum.

The attraction of Holyrood Distillery is not only due to their highly esteemed products but also their unique philosophy and experimental house style in crafting spirits.

We will also share an interview with Calum who will discuss the history, experimental house style, and perspectives of the distillery.

Check out this article too!

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