PR invite // All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.
Holyrood Distillery is hosting Edinburgh’s first beer & whisky festival and I was invited for a preview night to get a taste of what’s coming up!
I was very surprised that there hasn’t really been any whisky & beer festival in Edinburgh before but it makes perfect sense that one is coming now as Edinburgh has plenty of local breweries and now also distilleries. An additional bonus that they are actually hosting it at Holyrood Distillery. There will also be brands from outside of the city and the distilleries & whiskies include Holyrood, Kilchoman, Wemyss Malts, Clydeside, NcNean , Glasgow Distillery, Raasay and Woven, whilst the breweries include Pilot, Newbarns, Cross Borders, Campervan, Stewarts Brewing, Other World Brewing, Bellfield, Barneys, and Cold Town Beer.
As part of the press event we were welcomed with a half n hauf upon arrival before getting a wee tour of the distillery. It was great to see it all as they have recently changed the look of some of the rooms that are part of the tour. If you want to read more about my first visit to Holyrood Distillery you can find it here. The new look focuses more on rustic and relaxed, rather than the colourful vibe it previously had which definitely felt designed as a tourist attraction.
In the first room we got to learn a bit more about the distillery, the area it sits in and a bit more about Edinburgh’s long history with breweries that have been around since the 12th century, if I don’t remember incorrectly. We also got to learn more about the ‘Strong Waters’ that Holyrood have released fairly recently. The series is called Charmed Circle and they are made using new make from either Golden Promise or Chevalier malt which has then been blended with neutral grain spirit to enhance the flavours of the barley. Holyrood Distillery experiment a lot with different barley and yeasts and this is just one of the experiments they are doing. Some malts they they use for distillation are so called Heritage Malts which aren’t traditionally used for whisky making. We tried one of these in a highball style drink with the Fever Tree White Grape & Apricot Soda which was just so refreshing and dangerously easy to drink. Danger Juice!
Not only does Holyrood Distillery do various new makes, strong waters and soon-to-be whisky – they also have a gin still. And they keep their gin pretty simple – only using neutral grain spirit along with Juniper, Sea Salt and Honey Comb (from Edinburgh Honey Co). They do two Distilled Gins but also have an Old Tom style gin. And of course they can’t resist experimenting with the gin either and use various international juniper berries, fermented juniper as well as roasted juniper to achieve various flavours. We tried a sample of the core Heigh of Arrows Gin which is very drinkable neat with notes of pine, fresh juniper and a soft citrus zestiness – I would definitely recommend trying it.
Underneath the gin still is the whisky floor with wash backs in a row and the stills at the end of the room. If you do the tour you also get a nice view of the stills from the upper floor as they extend all the way up. The last room contains casks where we learned more about Holyrood future plans for their whisky which will hopefully be released within not a too distant future. Here we got a sample of one of their new makes, which is different to the Strong Waters as they are not blended with neutral grain spirit. They do use different mash bills, yeasts and malt toasting levels for these such as Brewers x Distillers Yeast, Crystal Malt and Chocolate Malt. If you are a whisky enthusiast it can be really interesting to try new makes and see what barley spirit tastes like before any influence of a cask.
From June 3rd – June 5th 2022 at Holyrood Distillery.
Tickets will be £35 per person and include two half pints and a dram from chosen exhibitors as well as tasting samples from everyone else.
The Pizza Geeks will also be on hand in case you get hungry.
There will be three slots to choose from – each 2.5h – at 12.00, 15.00 and 18.00.
With the code MU22SW you get 10% off !
Hauf n haufs
After the tour we got to taste some different hauf n haufs – a half pint of beer & a dram of whisky. As the festival focuses on beer and whisky it’s the perfect pairing – and one that is popular all around Scotland.
Our first pairing was a lager from Pilot along with Woven No 9 The Elixir of Leith and the second was the Pilot Peach Melba Sour along with Woven No 8 Pete vs Peat. As a sour beer fan I just love the Peach Melba Sour which has a lovely balance between the peach flavour and the level of sour in the beer – highly recommend! And it goes surprisingly well along with the smoky whisky.
I definitely think it will be a fun and interesting festival and will try my best to make it along to one of the sessions to explore more of what the local brands and the distilleries have to offer!
✦ Want to read more about distillery visits?