Holyrood Distillery’s long-awaited inaugural whisky, Arrival, has… err… arrived (and gone, it’s all sold out). 

The distillery, found in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town in the shadow of Salisbury Crags, has been on whisky fan’s radar for a little while now. The creation of tasty drinks like Height of Arrows and Elizabeth Yard has proven Holyrood knows its way around a spirit but it’s been the constantly evolving range of new make spirits that have really whet the appetite of us whisky nerds, with editions like Chocolate Malt, Brewer’s X Distiller’s Yeast, Made By Edinburgh, and Crystal Malt making us hungry for the real thing.

That’s exactly what Arrival is and you can now buy it from Master of Malt. We’ve got a tasting note and some more info below, but first how about a little Holyrood history?

Calum Rae, Holyrood distillery manager

Calum Rae, Holyrood distillery manager

A little Holyrood Distillery history

The distillery was founded in 2019 by Canadian couple and Scotch Malt Whisky Society members, Rob and Kelly Carpenter, as well as former Macallan master distiller and Scot, David Robertson. The distillery is located in a refurbished ‘engine shed’ that was once part of the terminus of the Innocent Railway. It retains an industrial feel and is part of the recent renaissance occurring in Edinburgh. Whisky distillation continues to spread among the capital, with the likes of Port of Leith opening its doors at the same time as Holyrood launches whisky (more on that later…). 

“This year Edinburgh has been well and truly placed back on the whisky-making-map and we’re incredibly proud to be part of this revolution. Arrival embodies our story so far as whisky makers and marks the beginning of a journey of progression, innovation, and experimentation”, says Rob Carpenter, founder of Holyrood Distillery. “Just as the distillery is a part of Edinburgh, our city and its people, heritage, and culture are what we draw inspiration from every day”.

Like many whisky distilleries, the brand ventured into vodka, gin, rum, and new make before its distillate had matured, but few could boast the kind of new make range Holyrood put out, each showing how much experimentation with grains and yeast strains we can expect in the future.

Holyrood Arrival Release #1 in Edinburgh

It’s arrived: Holyrood Arrival Release #1!

Holyrood Arrival Release #1 is here

Arrival has become one of the first single malt whiskies produced in Edinburgh in a century with this launch. It was made from malt provided by Crisp Maltings and was fermented for 104 hours using two strains of distillers yeast, DY379 and DY502. Each future release will be unique and will evolve from this recipe. That means experimenting with heritage and specialty malts, as well as a range of yeasts not typically used within scotch whisky production. Arrival was aged in oloroso butts, Pedro Ximénez hogsheads, bourbon barrels, and rum barriques. 

“We selected this whisky as our inaugural release, to reflect the first stage of all Holyrood recipe development, whilst showcasing the incredible and complex flavours which can be achieved by Holyrood at any age,” says Calum Rae, distillery manager.

The name ‘Arrival’ is inspired by the distillery’s location in the former Innocent Railway terminal, but also invokes a sense of achievement in the release, as in “we made it!” The bottle is pretty unique too. The Holyrood hourglass is front and centre while the distinctive beer bottle silhouette and brown glass pay tribute to a once-bustling glassworks located not too far from our distillery. 

The first bottle of Arrival will be sold as part of the Distiller’s One of One charity auction in aid of The Youth Action Fund. For everyone else, you’ll need to be quick to get your hands on a bottle. It’s a very reasonable price (not even £67) and there’s only 8,188 bottles produced. It’s also quite lovely. Think sticky toffee pudding with dates and cinnamon. Holyrood has arrived but is also only just getting started. 

Tasting note from The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Dried fruit, butterscotch, dark chocolate, orange peel, and cinnamon. 

Palate: Digestive biscuit, ginger, charred marzipan, spiced fruit compote, candied orange, nutty praline, and sticky toffee.

Finish: The baking spices build, with ripe dark forest fruits lingering.