Plans for Scotland’s first ‘vertical’ distillery submitted

Plans for Scotland’s first ‘vertical distillery’, that will also use water from the Port of Leith harbour in the cooling process, have been submitted to Edinburgh Council.

The company behind the Port of Leith Distillery is Muckle Brig Ltd, which was founded by Ian Stirling and Patrick Fletcher, who grew up together in the Scottish capital. If approved, the distillery will become the first purpose-built single malt distillery to be constructed in Edinburgh, bringing whisky production back to Leith – once the centre of Edinburgh’s whisky industry – for over a century.

“We have set out to create a new whisky business with Innovation, Education and Openness placed at the forefront of our operations. The design brief for the building was expressly aimed at encompassing these values by creating an exciting and modern face for the Scotch whisky industry,” said Ian, who was previously head of off-trade sales at London merchant Roberson Wine.

The pair came up with the concept for a vertical distillery, which uses gravitiy in the whisky production process, much like many wineries during harvest, four years ago. The distillery, which is 40m in height, was designed by Scottish practice Threesixty Architecture, and will allow visitors to follow the liquid from the mash tun in the centre of the building, down through the ‘brewery’, to the stills on the ground floor.

The vertical production process will place a specific emphasis on fermentation, an aspect of whisky production that Stirling and Fletcher say is “rarely highlighted”, producing some 400,000 litres of pure alcohol a year. The building will also use the adjacent harbour as a heat sink for cooling the production process – an environmentally friendly design feature that will significantly reduce the volume of water required to produce its whisky.

Stefano Faiella, Director of Threesixty Architecture said “It has been an exciting opportunity to design a new distillery where the client has challenged us to develop a design where the distillation process and a unique visitor experience are equally important and must complement one another, in a building they can be proud of.”

“Leith was once the national hub for the Scotch industry and it’s really exciting to be restarting that tradition”, says Patrick Fletcher. “Our business will boost the local economy by drawing more tourists and residents
down to the harbour and providing many new jobs. Leith has been on the up for many years and we’re really excited to be building where we are, right in the heart of the docks. Hopefully the quality of our building’s
architecture will encourage more investment in the area.”

If approved, construction will begin early next year, with completion expected in the spring of 2019.

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