The company behind an upcoming distillery in Leith has launched its first drinks this week ahead of the production site’s official opening in 2020.

The team behind the £10 million Port of Leith Distillery, which is set to become Scotland’s first ever vertical distillery, previewed their new gin and sherry , which celebrate the maritime and distilling heritage of the historic Port of Leith district, at a special event on Monday.

Both drinks are currently being housed at The Tower Street Stillhouse near the site of the future spirits production site.

Port of Leith Distillery

The new gin. Picture: Port of Leith Distillery

Named after Edinburgh’s Dr. James Lind, a hero of the Scottish Enlightenment, who observed that citrus fruits prevented scurvy in the world’s first recorded clinical trial, Lind & Lime Gin is priced at £35 for 70cl and combines flavours of lime and pink peppercorn.

With a base spirit at 96 per cent ABV, the gin has been distilled with “seven carefully curated botanicals” that come together in a “delicate harmony”.

Designed in a distinctive wine bottle shape, Lind & Lime Gin harks back to Leith’s past as a trading harbour for wines, sherries and ports, which were the most valuable commodities to pass through the docks from the 14th century onwards.
Traditionally wines and spirits were transported in barrels, before being bottled in Leith. The Port of Leith team say that this remarkable local industrial heritage inspired their decision to use the distinctive wine bottle shape.

Port of Leith Distillery

The new sherry. Picture: Port of Leith Distillery

Ian Stirling, co-founder of Port of Leith Distillery said: “We’ve thrown our full and unbridled energy into creating a gin forged entirely from the talent, heritage and industry of Edinburgh and its historic distilling district of Leith. In everything that we produce, our watchword is ‘balance’ and the recipe of seven botanicals has worked in harmony to create something really special.”

In addition to Lind & Lime Gin, Port of Leith Distillery is also launching a sherry sourced from Bodegas Baron in Cadiz, Andalucía.

Priced at £15 for 75cl, the Port of Leith Distillery Sherry is described as a “refreshing style of Oloroso”, with zingy citrus notes, dried fruit, and an “array of nutty flavours”.

The sherry is similarly inspired by Leith’s maritime past, when whisky merchants based in The Shore area would use empty sherry casks to store their spirits. They soon discovered sherry casks transformed the flavour of their products and a major innovation in whisky production was born.

In the future, Port of Leith Distillery will source sherry casks from Bodegas Baron to mature its whisky.

Port of Leith Distillery

Picture: Port of Leith Distillery

Paddy Fletcher, Port of Leith Distillery co-founder, said: “Sherry plays a crucial role in defining the character of many of Scotland’s best-loved whiskies and the Bodegas Baron sherry will help form our whisky. So, while we wait for our whisky to mature, this is a perfect opportunity to give the sherry its moment in the limelight”

Founded by the two local childhood friends, the pair stated that the Port of Leith Distillery is set to be a “landmark new tourist attraction”, with a “bold design” and “panoramic views over Edinburgh, Leith and the harbour”, adding that with the finance and planning permission now secured, work is set to begin on the project in Spring 2019, with an opening date marked for Autumn 2020 – creating one of the first purpose-built malt whisky distilleries to come to Edinburgh in over 100 years.

The distillery will bring an innovative focus on fermentation to whisky production, with the team having already embarked on a two-year research programme (in association with Heriot Watt University’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling) to bring new yeasts and fermentation styles into the production process.

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things whisky-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over six years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink.

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