An old barber’s shop and a railway station

What could these two quite disparate things have in common?

A brand new Scottish distillery – Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh, which is currently under construction, hence the barber’s shop. The team are using the shop as a base whilst construction is underway across the road in an incredible B-listed building which was built in 1835 as part of the Edinburgh & Dalkeith Railway (E&DR). It was Edinburgh’s first railway station, built to principally transport coal and later passenger services.

Disused now for years, and after many incarnations, including (of all things) a tofu factory, the team behind Holyrood Distillery have big plans for the space – namely to bring single malt production back to Edinburgh for the first time in around 100 years, but also to produce gin, liqueurs and other spirits. Jack Mayo has been brought on board as Distillery Manager and is busy working on the prototype gins.

Like many distillers we meet, Jack studied at The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt, following on from his doctorate in astrophysics. He then worked for a leading distillery making award-winning gin, before embarking on this exciting project of his own.

Leaving a blustery construction site behind and heading back to the shop, Jack gave me a taste the prototype gins that he has been working on.

The first, Holyrood Dry, is, as the name suggests, a crisp, dry juniper-led gin with fresh citrus notes. The second, Holyrood Pink is infused with fresh raspberries and has a natural pink hue, thanks to the addition of hibiscus.

I surprised myself by preferring the pink gin, which is bursting with juniper and berry flavours. However, the Holyrood Dry was also incredibly drinkable and changed complexion with the addition of tonic.

Before the team go in to full production with the gin, they are looking for customer feedback, so they have opened the shop for gin drinkers to come along and be involved in the development of the gin, current hours: 1-7pm Friday and Saturday, and 1-4pm on Sundays, but please check the website in advance, as these times may change.

We’ll keep you up to date about the gins and their release dates. To find out more about the exciting distillery plans, visit

Please drink gin responsibly.

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