Whilst spending a few days in the sunny port district of Leith, I was lucky enough to be able to fit in a visit to the Port Of Leith Distillery.
The distillery was founded by Patrick and Ian, who grew up together in Edinburgh and who both shared a dream. A vision of producing their very own Whisky one day, but their journey has been an interesting one, which has also lead to the production of a fantastic gin product by the name of Lind and Lime.
I was honoured to be invited along to find out more about this gin and the company by Ian himself Along with another member of their staff, Hannah, I was taken the story of the Port of Leith Distillery.
The ‘tour’ started in their current still house, found tucked away in a unit on an industrial estate. The unit houses their still, as well as their ‘Global Headquarters’, a newly assembled shed which takes the place of their previous headquarters, a slightly smaller shed.
The evening starts with an interesting twist and an introduction to an Oloroso Sherry. Sourced from Bodegas Baron, the port of leith sherry, which is served in this occasion as a sherry chaud – an alternative to mulled wine and ideal for winter evenings.
We are told the story of how in times past, casks of sherry were shipped in via the port of Leith. The Sherry would then be bottled, using bottles that are produced locally, before being sold on, all around the UK.
The casks used to ship these sherry’s would then be used by local Whisky producers in order to mature their spirits.
The Port of Leith Distillery have really invested time and effort into a future whisky product and started by finding the sherry producer that they want to use for their whisky casks. Lots of time has been spent on each and every detail and I can defiantly concur with the sherry being very special.
There immense attention to detail is what has lead to the already great success of the team, and this is also seen in their Gin.
With the history of bottling still in mind, we are taken through another journey – this one on how they came up with their gin bottle. They decided to use the bottle making skills found locally, to come up with their own bottle, produced by the Leith Glass Works.
It took a number of prototypes before finally settling on the bottle used for their gin, a bottle that looks absolutely stunning on a shelf and I’m sure is used by many as some kind of lamp afterwards.
Next came the gin itself, which again takes huge influence from the port. Research uncovered the story of James Lind, who discovered that Lime Juice helped to prevent scurvy amongst sailors when out at sea. An idea that was adopted by Captain James Cook, who gave all his crew a rationing of Lime Juice preserved in Rum, which then gave rise to the nick name of ‘Limeys’ for British sailors.
It was a little later that Lauchlan Rose discovered that Sugar could be used to preserve the lime juice instead of alcohol and the well know Rose’s Lime Juice was invented, right there in the port of Leith.
With this history in mind, Lind and Lime Gin was born.
A juniper rich gin, lime is added to produce a pleasant gin that can be sipped and which is ultra refreshing paired with a light tonic.
Fresh lime zest is used in the recipe to give just the right touch of zing, with the leftover juice being perfect for making a Gimlet.
Lind and Lime is bottled at 44% proof, which we are told was to ensure that the liquid remains ultra clear with zero clouding on the shelves.
Whilst Lind and Lime Gin was a secondary product, whilst they continued to perfect further elements of their whisky, it has actually taken everyone by surprise and has rightly become a very popular gin, in a very busy sector.
Plans are still afoot for a superb whisky product though and the team are working on research, in conjunction with the local university, on different forms of yeast that could be used in replacement for brewer’s yeast. This research is aimed at focussing on the flavours produced by the different yeasts as a base for their whisky.
Land has been secured for a new distillery on the port, right next to the Royal Yacht Britannia with plans already drawn up for an amazing building that will be producing their whisky’s.
Ideas are still being worked on, including a floating pontoon warehouse in which to mature the whisky, with the gentle movement on the water aiding the maturation process. The Distillery will also host tours and be a destination in itself.
I originally went along to find out more about Lind and Lime, but I left wowed at the vision of the Port of Leith Distillery. I will definately be watching with interest and very much look forward to seeing the company grow.