Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh, Scotland
Finally it’s here! The first whisky distillery open to the public in Edinburgh for about 100 years!
Holyrood Distillery is also very easy to visit by foot. It is only about a 15 minute walk from The Royal Mile in Old Town.
Good to know
What is the price of the tour?
The Holyrood Distillery Tour that we did was £14 per adult. We got a tour of the entire distillery. This includes both the gin production and whisky production. And two samples!
Do I get to sample spirits on the tour?
On our tour we got to try both a gin – their pink gin – and a whisky!
What to do if I don’t like whisky?
Do you like gin? Holyrood Distillery makes both whisky and gin so you can choose! But I also like believing there’s a whisky for everyone. Maybe you’ve just not find the one for you yet? But you also don’t have to like whisky. Could be fun to try as part of the experience though!
Does Holyrood Distillery have their own whisky?
Not yet! They’re a very young distillery, just starting distillation now in 2019. But I’m already excited to see what they’ll bring out in the future!
6 days after opening day we decided to go along for a tour to the new distillery in town. I was very excited to see what Holyrood Distillery had done to the place. And of course to taste some of their gins which I had never done before.
Testing your nosing skills with Aroma Academy
The tour has been designed in collaboration with Aroma Academy and focuses on the difference senses. So we got to do a test of guessing different scents to start out with.
I am very happy with being a “Supertaster” even though I guessed one of them incorrectly. Doing one of these tests definitely shows you how difficult it is to guess different scents, even though you have options to choose from.
It is definitely a really well designed tour and I never felt myself getting bored. There was always something new to have a look at or to learn.
Sometimes distillery tours can feel quite similar since the basics of distillation is pretty much the same everywhere, but this tour had a lot of new ideas which caught my interest and made things bit different which I really appreciated.
The Gin Production at Holyrood Distillery
It’s really interesting to visit a distillery that is going to produce both whisky and gin.
And how pretty is this gin still?
I really want to learn more about gin. I think I really need to visit both Pickerings Gin and Edinburgh Gin here in town very soon as well. Especially since I’ve never been to either. I’m particularly interested in how the botanicals affect the spirit in different ways.
I’m gonna be honest and say that I usually don’t drink gin without tonic or mixers. But I’ve recently discovered how interesting it is to try the gin neat. It helps with being able to taste the flavours of that specific gin.
We got to try the pink gin which of course contains juniper, but also Scottish raspberries, pink grapefruit and pink peppercorns. I was very surprised to discover how easy it was to drink and wouldn’t mind sipping this one even without any tonic. The beautiful color of the gin comes from hibiscus and rose petals.
The Whisky Production at Holyrood Distillery
After our gin tasting we continued to the whisky part of the distillery. Sometimes it’s really nice to visit distilleries when they are in silent season, when the stills are off and you get the chance to have a look in to empty mash tuns, wash backs and other things. It is also nice since it’s a nicer temperature in the room and not 100 degrees. I’m exaggerating but you get the gist.
I will definitely be excited to see how everything is working when production is starting. And that might be within just a few days. If I’m to believe a little bird that whispered in my ear…
Something that always interests me is the shape of the stills since it can have such an effect on the character of the spirit. The stills at Holyrood are the tallest stills in Scotland in proportion to still volume and are quite similar to Glenmorangies giraffe stills.
They are also very thin which can indicate that there will be a light and perhaps fruity character which will be produced. However, they are saying that they want to produce four different kinds of whisky – sweet, spicy, smoky and fruity/floral so it will be very interesting to see them develop.
During the tour you also get the chance to learn more about different kinds of yeast and barley that the distillery is hoping to be able to use in the future. If you are as nerdy as me you’ll LOVE learning more about this.
Stainless steel washbacks on parade.
And look what’s hiding in the distillery: two old colleagues of mine! They were so wonderful and made sure we had such a good tour!
The ‘Warehouse’ at Holyrood Distillery
But that wasn’t all!
My absolute favourite part of distillery tours is usually the warehouses. Holyrood has succeeded really well in recreating a warehouse in this room. And it even smells like a real dunnage warehouse!
This is where we got our whisky tasting, as well as learn more about maturation which of course is a very important part of the production. Another wonderful surprise is that you can smell some different casks in here. It’s such wonderful scent!
The smell of dunnage warehouse is one of my all time favourite smells and together with the sound of a whisky bottle with a cork that’s being opened, it creates an amazing experience.
You definitely get the chance to learn about the difference flavours that you can get from different casks – from barrels to butts – as well as see the different cask sizes which can affect the flavour as well.
A bonus tasting
We also got the chance to try the entire range of the gins and gin liqueurs after our tour. It was really interesting to see the differences between them. My favourites were the rhubarb & black pepper liqueur and the spiced gin.
Rebecca was showing us all the different products and telling us all about them.
It was a really good tour and I will return shortly to see the distillery when they’ve started producing their whisky.
Holyrood Distillery certainly has a tour that will suit you if:
– you want to get interesting and good information
– you want to learn about both gin and whisky
– you want easy access as it’s closely located to central Edinburgh.
– you like a good gift shop with everything from coasters, key rings and candle holders made out of old whisky casks to books and gins