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Plans for £5m single malt distillery in Leith

An Edinburgh-based duo is planning to build a £5 million (US$6.1m) Scotch whisky distillery in Leith, thought to be the first in the Scottish district for more than a century.

Patrick Fletcher (left) and Ian Stirling (right) are planning to open a single malt distillery in Leith

Founded by Ian Stirling and Patrick Fletcher, the Port of Leith Distillery will be built in Edinburgh’s port district beside Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre and The Royal Yacht Britannia.

A planning application is already underway and will be submitted in the next three months.

The single malt distillery plans to eventually produce 400,000 lpa (litres of pure alcohol) a year, with a focus on fermentation.

“The first step to making whisky is making a beer, and as any beer fan will know, there is a whole world of possibilities in that process,” said Stirling. “We want to play with those possibilities, ferment something special, and then distil a delicious Lowland whisky.”

The distillery’s plans also include an adjacent floating restaurant and bar.

“Leith was once the national hub for the Scotch industry and it’s really exciting to be restarting that tradition,” said Fletcher. “Our business will boost the local economy by drawing more tourists and residents down to the harbour and providing many new jobs. And hopefully the quality of our building’s architecture will encourage more investment in Leith.”

Accessibility is a key priority for the founders, who intend to open the distillery not only to tourists, but also students and local enthusiasts alike. “Patrick and I took our first step down this road by purchasing a still and playing with it,” said Stirling. “We’d like to give people the chance to do the same thing, but in a slightly safer environment than Patrick’s back garden.”

The company has secured investment to apply for planning consent and building warrants, with significant investment already committed for the construction phase, pending the outcome of the planning process.

“It took a long time to find the ideal site,” added Fletcher. “Ocean Terminal bought into our vision when we had no money and only a plan. By agreeing to this land deal, they’ve made an enormous contribution to our business and, we hope, to Leith.”

The Spencerfield Spirit Company opened a second distillery for its Edinburgh Gin brand in Leith last year, allowing the gin to quadruple production capacity.

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