PR invite // All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.
Ahead of the launch of Holyrood Distillery’s Arrival I had the opportunity to attend a press trip in Edinburgh with the team to get to know both the release and the distillery further. Unfortunately I missed out on the first day as I was doing another press trip with Deanston – which you can read about here – but I had a lovely time once I could join. Not only did we have a good time at the distillery where we got to go hands on with production and of course try the new release, but we also experienced some of Edinburgh’s loveliest food and drink spots.
Staying at Native Places Edinburgh
I really enjoy getting the opportunity to discover new places in Edinburgh and I had’t come across Native Places before, in spite of walking past it several times. Located incredibly central on Queen Street this apartment hotel offers not only accommodation but also a café/bar. I’ll definitely come back at some point to try out some of the wines or some food as it’s a gorgeous space.
The apartments/rooms have an inviting interior design and full equipped kitchen. My room featured a shower with shower gel and shampoo – but no conditioner. There were also a sofa in the living area as well as a desk. My room faces queen street and was a bit noisy from the traffic during the night so just something to bear in mind, but I really enjoyed that it was possible to get the room quite cool as I much prefer that when I sleep. Each room gets a takeaway breakfast bag in the morning, which is collected from the desk next to reception. My bag had two chocolate muffins, two yoghurts and one apple juice + one orange juice as each bag is for two people. If you fancy a more substantial breakfast then I’d recommend checking out Fortuna, which is right next doors – the salmon bagel is lush and plenty of croissants here too.
As I was joining the press trip a bit later on I joined the group for some pre-dinner cocktails at Panda & Sons. I always enjoy a cocktail at Panda & Sons as the menu has some really interesting options and the team is always really friendly and happy to assist with recommendations. The fact that this speak-easy styled bar is a bit of a hidden gem just makes it even better. I’d almost say Panda & Sons is a must for your Edinburgh trip if you fancy a cocktail.
Dinner at Heron
This was my first time dining at Heron and I really enjoy the vibe of the restaurant. The team is super friendly and helpful with wine recommendations and explained each drink and dish brilliantly. We were enjoying the A La Carte menu for the evening, which is priced at £69/pp for the five courses. For the starter, main and dessert each person had to pick between two options I went for the Mackerel to start, Sea Bass for mains and Gubbeen for dessert. Before dinner started we were served strawberry negronis and they were delightful. The whole menu was well cooked and really enjoyable but the crab canapés with apple and almond really stand out and were my favourite flavour packages this evening. There’s also sourdough with brown crab butter served before the starters, which isa treat in itself. I’d definitely recommend a visit to Heron if enjoy discovering flavour combinations in relaxed, yet elegant surroundings – and don’t miss out on the strawberry negronis or the crab canapés…
Production at Holyrood Distillery
After a good nights sleep we headed to Holyrood Distillery for a closer look at their production. This was actually the closest I’ve ever been to production as we got to try our hand at managing the production system through the computer that runs the entire distillery, rinse out the mash tun and empty bags of barley to the conveyer belt that takes it up into the mash tun. It really gives you such a clear understanding of what I actually happening behind the scenes at distilleries. Since I joined a bit later I also got the opportunity to taste Arrival for the first time!
Tasting the Arrival – Holyrood Distillery’s first whisky release!
Arrival is the first ever single malt whisky released by Holyrood Distillery!
This single malt has been matured for three years in ex-oloroso, ex-px, ex-bourbon and ex -rum casks.
I got sweet grain, fresh pears, sweet floral springtime notes alongside greenhouse or tropical plants and wine gums on the nose. The palate was fruity, with a slight yeast note together with soft spice, approachable sherry tones and more wine gums. It felt fresh and green as a whole.
Overall it is a very approachable whisky which I think will suit many palates – and it is so exciting to see a whisky made in Edinburgh again!
Lunch at Wedgwood
Following the excitement of trying this brand new single malt, we headed to Wedgwood for lunch. You might remember that I enjoyed a foraging experience and lunch at Wedgwood back in April? You can read more about that here.
The lunch menu at Wedgwood costs £25 for two courses or £30 for three courses and I opted for a goats cheese starter and chicken + risotto main to got with a refreshing Aperol Spritz since Edinburgh had descendent straight into peak summer heat all of the sudden. They were both really lovely – the goats cheese was a nice refreshing mix of flavours and the chicken had delightfully crispy skin which was needed as a texture contrast to the soft meat and risotto.
Walking Tour and Pilot Brewery Visit
Following the lunch we headed out into the summer heat for a walking tour with Holyrood Distillery to explore Edinburgh’s hidden and somewhat lost brewery + distilling history. We got to explore some lovely hidden corners of Edinburgh, which I haven’t even seen after living here for 8 years. And to top it all off we then took a taxi down to Leith to visit Pilot Brewery. In the 25C heat we were welcomed with a cold Pilot Charmed Circle – which was just perfect! The Charmed Circle Lager is made in collaboration with Holyrood Distillery to pair with their Charmed Circle spirits. The beer is made using heritage malts Chevallier and Golden Promise and is a really refreshing lager with a nice mix of hops and malt on the palate. We also had a tour around the brewery, and I’ve not seen that many breweries before so it was really interesting to learn more about it. And in particular about how it differs from whisky production, where no distillation happens and hops are added. Since Pilot also does some brilliant sour beers it is also quite fascinating to learn more about this process. To end it all we enjoyed a tasting of a variety of products where the Lime & Pepper Gose and Basil Grande were my favourites, but Peach Melba is one of my go-to’s so if you are in Edinburgh don’t miss out on trying it as it is available on plenty of taps around the city.
After a refreshing shower and some downtime back at the hotel, we walked over to Hey Palu. Hey Palu is a cocktail bar, just off of Lothian Road and this will definitely not be the last time I come here. They have a great menu with plenty of options and next time I come back I’ll have to try the Negroni Flight and some of their snacks and nibbles. We were welcomed with a martini with a twist which had riesling and decorated by a sour apple, which was really lovely. I’ve only recently gotten into martinis so enjoy trying variations of this classic cocktail.
I’ve been wanting to visit Lucky Yu for ages so when I saw it on our itinerary I was thrilled! We had the pleasure of enjoying a selection of plates to share alongside some custom Holyrood cocktails and everything was just SO good. Definitely one of my food highlights this year!
The team at Lucky Yu had also created a cocktail menu based on Height of Arrows Gin series and they were all wonderfully balanced and were a refreshing complement to the food. I’m a strong believer that more restaurants should do cocktails + food.
Amongst the plates we had I’d highly recommend the dirty rice, the lamb gyozas, the charred corn ribs, roasted & grilled aubergine, karate fried chicken and the bbq beef short rib yakitori. I will have foodie dreams about this meal for a long time..
Nightcap at Skua
To end two fabulous days in Edinburgh with delicious drinks and food, we went for a nightcap at Skua in Stockbridge. I had not been here before, in spite of living just around the corner, so it was lovely to discover this little gem just below the busy St Stephens Street. We were welcomed with a Holyrood Distillery Height of Arrows Gin cocktail and I must say I really enjoy when a bar has created their own cocktail based on the flavours of a specific bottle.
✦ Want to read more about whisky happenings?