The UK’s first vertical distillery launches in Edinburgh for Port of Leith whisky

A rare example of an urban, vertical distillery has been revealed in Edinburgh for Port of Leith whisky

Port of Leith vertical distillery seen from the water
(Image credit: Port of Leith)

A vertical distillery is an uncommon proposition in the drinks and spirits world, but that is exactly what Port of Leith whisky did when it launched its new home with a bang this week. The brand, which was set up by lifelong friends, wine merchant Ian Stirling and finance director Paddy Fletcher, is celebrating the opening of its headquarters and distillery in Edinburgh this week to a design by Glasgow-based architects ThreeSixty. 

vertical distillery for Port of Leith interior

(Image credit: Port of Leith)

A vertical distillery defines Port of Leith whisky

Placed by the water, the building sits proudly overlooking the sea, spanning nine storeys. Inside, alongside whisky stills and relating equipment for the distillation process, visitors can also enjoy a drink at the top-floor mezzanine bar, offering 360-degree views of the surrounding urban realm. 

Port of Leith interior with bar

(Image credit: Port of Leith)

'Building a distillery of our own has been an ambition of Paddy and mine for over ten years, so to see the project finally come to fruition is a surreal moment for us,' says Stirling. 'We never set out to build a vertical distillery – the shape and size of the building is a product of the tiny site we were able to secure. We wedged our distillery tower into Edinburgh’s historic harbour to make our building as accessible as possible to people who, like us, love whisky. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the Port of Leith tour as special as we possibly can and look forward to welcoming fans across the globe to a whisky experience like no other.'

Port of Leith vertical distillery interior with stills

(Image credit: Port of Leith)

The building will be open for guests from 11 October 2023, and beyond the visitor experience and distillery tours available, there will also be a tasting menu on offer at the bar. 

still at Port of Leith vertical whisky distillery

(Image credit: Port of Leith)

'Coming from Edinburgh, we were always confused as to why there were no single malt distilleries operating in the city,' says Fletcher. 'Being able to build something modern and different has been an enormous treat; hopefully it will encourage people to take a second look at Scotch whisky as there's huge amounts of innovation and excitement going on within the industry.'

machinery at Port of Leith whisky distillery

(Image credit: Port of Leith) 

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).