Walking is great for both your physical and mental well-being. In the past few months we’ve seen a rise in the amount of people heading out for a stroll around their local areas, so we thought, why not make some of those walks a little bit more interesting and add a whisky twist to them! We’ve come up with just a few ‘whisky-related’ sites in Edinburgh that are worth a wee wander round!
Located next to Haymarket Station, you can walk around the grounds of the old Caledonian Distillery and enjoy the typical distillery architecture that can still be seen.
The Caledonian Distillery was built in 1855 during a boom in new grain distillery builds. As a result of this rapid growth in grain distilleries, there was an over-supply of grain whisky, leading to the 6 largest grain distillers teaming up in 1856 to divide the market among themselves. Within 1 year of opening, the Caledonian Distillery received a whopping 41.5% of the market! The distillery was also known for having the largest Coffey still in all of Europe. After changing hands multiple times throughout the years, the distillery doors were finally shut in 1988 after over 100 years of whisky producing.
The distillery was cleaned out, parts were demolished, and the site was turned into housing. There are still many aspects of the original distillery to be seen if you have a wander around – the most obvious being the 300 ft chimney stack, which is one of the tallest Victorian towers to remain in Scotland.
The site on which the Dean Distillery was once located is one of the most loved and picturesque areas of Edinburgh. As part of the Water of Leith walkway, this is a fantastic place to take a break and soak in some whisky history!
In 1881, James Johnstone set up the Dean Distillery in a converted flour mill, in the shadow of the Dean bridge. Sitting on the edge of the Water of Leith, the distillery was known for producing top-class whisky, however it was far smaller than many other distilleries, only producing around 73,000 gallons of whisky annually. Most of this whisky was sent south and consumed in northern England. After a short while, the distillery was shut in 1922.
Take a walk through Dean Village and under the Dean bridge and look out for any of the buildings having a familiar ‘distillery’ style to them!
North British Distillery
Located right next to the Tynecastle Stadium, home of the Heart of Midlothian FC – why not take a nice wee cultural wander, taking in the world of Scotch whisky and the world of Scottish football!
Along with Caledonian Distillery, the North British Distillery was one of the six dedicated grain distilleries in Scotland. Founded in 1885 by Andrew Usher, William Sanderson, James Watson and John Crabbie, the distillery was built in an attempt to challenge the monopoly the Distillers Company Ltd. had over the grain supplies. In 1887 the distillery began producing its whisky from a single Coffey still, however in just under three short years, the distillery was creating double, producing three million gallons per year! North British Distillery is still a fully functioning distillery to this day.
Why not go for a grain distillery walking tour through history and visit both the North British Distillery and the remains of the Caledonian Distillery in the same day – they’re only a 20 minute walk away from each other!
Moving away from distilleries and to the other side of Edinburgh, we’re heading to Leith, where we will find Pattison Street – a street with a wealth of whisky history.
Pattison Street can be found in the heart of Leith, an area of Edinburgh that was once home to a booming whisky industry servicing blending, bottling and shipping from the port. One particular Victorian building, now home to Georgian Antiques, was once a purpose-built bonded warehouse – basically a massive whisky barrel storage space! It was here that the infamous Pattison brothers trained 500 parrots to say “Buy Pattisons’ Whisky!”. For decades Abbot’s Choice was matured here, until the warehouse was closed in 1985.
Leith has a wealth of whisky history to it, there is so much more than just Pattison Street – why not learn some more by taking a walking tour on the Leith Whisky Trail!
The Pear Tree
Taking a stroll in The Meadows? Did you know that close by there is a building with a lot of history relating to one of the biggest names in the world of Scotch whisky? The Pear Tree is situated just a short walk away and has quite a story!
Originally called, West Nicolson House, this building was, in 1826, the birthplace of ‘the father of blending’ himself – Andrew Usher Jnr. Further to making his fortune in whisky and being the one of the first to popularize blended whiskies, Usher was also a prominent citizen of the city of Edinburgh. In his later years he became a well-known public benefactor and philanthropist. In 1896, Usher gifted the city of Edinburgh £100,000 to build a substantial civic hall for the city. This building, located on Lothian Road, was named the Usher Hall and is now a live music and arts venue to some big names in the industry! It is said that the dome of the Usher Hall is in fact modeled on the dome found on the upper level of the Pear Tree House!
The Pear Tree is now a pub with a fantastic beer garden, so once the guidelines are in place – take a stroll along the meadows and stop off at The Pear Tree for a nice refreshing beverage!
So there we have it, a few wee places to wander to around Edinburgh, each with a bit of whisky history! What are your favourite whisky-related locations in Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments below!
Keep safe, and slàinte mhath!