Holyrood Arrival

Today we look at the inaugural release from one of our local distilleries, Holyrood.

Holyrood Arrival 

Region: Lowlands

ABV: 46.1%

Price: £67.00

The Holyrood Distillery is situated in the heart of Edinburgh, near Holyrood Park. It has taken up residence in a building that was once a railway goods shed. It was founded in 2018 by David Robertson, the former master distiller at The Macallan, alongside Rob and Kelly Carpenter, co-founders of the Canadian branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS). Holyrood Distillery opened its doors in 2019, becoming the first single malt distillery in Edinburgh since 1925.

Alongside whisky, the site also produces gin and rum. Their production methods encompass experimentation with different yeasts, grains, fermentation times, and distillation techniques. Holyrood also offers guided experiential tours, a visitors bar with views of Holyrood Park, and a spirits and gift shop.

Their first release “Arrival” was made from malt provided by Crisp Maltings, fermented for 104 hours using two strains of distillers yeast, DY379 and DY502, and then aged in a mix of Oloroso Butts, Pedro Ximénez Hogsheads, Bourbon Barrels, and Rum Barriques. This release was limited to 8,188 bottles.


Initially, we detect diluted summer fruit squash, a hint of paxarette, lemon balm, and overly watered-down apple juice. Upon closer examination, there are notes of cheap aftershave, raspberries, and pine. As we sit with it longer, we notice lime zest, oven-baked beetroot, dry soil, and lychee liqueur.


Upon tasting, there's an immediate hit of chocolaty notes mingling with raisins. It has the dry characteristic of fino sherry, and an earthiness reminiscent of a forest floor. There are hints of burnt toast and bitter coffee undertones. The mouthfeel is disappointing as is the finish with a fleeting pepper spice that disappears too soon. As it evolves, the taste of ginger tea emerges, followed by a touch of rhubarb and an unexpected Marmite flavour. There’s also a little unsweetened iced tea here.

Nose (with water)

Upon dilution, the nose turns creamier, complemented by a drizzle of caramel. Hints of sawdust emerge, with the aftershave evolving into a floral, pleasant perfume-like aroma. Additionally, there are notes of pineapple upsidedown cake.

Palate (with water)

The addition of water has worsened the mouthfeel. Notes of wet paper emerge, accompanied by an excess of bitter grapefruit. While dilution has accentuated the dry soil note, it also introduces pleasant lemon tones and a fleeting hint of vanilla towards the finish.


Having had the opportunity to experiencing the distillery tour (that was excellent), and trying some cask samples, our anticipation for future releases remains high. However, this particular offering, though interesting, didn't fully hit the mark for us. It’s not the harmonious symphony of flavours we were hoping for, instead it feels a tad disjointed. The cask mixture has down a good job of covering up the youthfulness of the spirit, but can’t quite hide everything. Unfortunately we’re going with a 5.5.

Score: 5.5/10


A little pricey for such young spirit, but we’ve seen other distilleries but their first release out much higher.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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