Crabbie’s Distillery & 8yo Single Malt

Crabbie Distillery

It seems as though there’s a bit of a race happening in Edinburgh at the moment as to who can be the first open a malt whisky distillery in the capital. The Holyrood Park Distillery project has been chugging along for a wee while now, whilst plans for the Port of Leith Distillery, which would be the first vertical distillery in Scotland, were announced late last year. Now, Halewood Wines & Spirits, the owner of the Crabbie’s whisky brand, are in on the act with plans to open a distillery in Leith next spring. No malt distilleries in the capital for a century, and then three come along at once. What’s that old adage about London buses…

The Crabbie name is now almost solely synonymous with Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine, but the company can trace its roots back to 1801 when Millar Crabbie opened a business in Edinburgh. His son, John, went on to become one of the most prominent figures in the whisky industry in the 19th century. After acquiring a former brewery in Leith he expanded the family’s blending business and bought the Haddington Distillery in East Lothian, before co-founding the North British Grain Distillery in 1885.

The business and the brand was eventually sold to DCL in the 1960s, then on to MacDonald & Muir in the 1980s, before being bought by Halewood in 2007. Halewood clearly have big plans for this historic brand, not only with the creation of a new £7 million distillery located just yards from John Crabbie’s original site in Leith, but with the launch of an 8yo and 30yo – two single malt releases from an undisclosed Highland distillery.

Commenting on the investment plans, David Brown, MD of John Crabbie & Co, said: “We are delighted to announce our plans to invest in the creation of a new distillery in Leith. It’s particularly pleasing that it will bear the name of John Crabbie, surely one of Edinburgh’s most legendary sons. The site we have chosen in Leith has historical links with Scotch whisky production and maturation dating back over 200 years and we hope it will contribute to the rising prosperity of the area with the creation of new jobs and through attracting additional visitors to the city. With the growing popularity of Scotch whisky around the world the time is right to rediscover the Crabbie whisky brand and to put Edinburgh firmly back on the Scotch whisky map.”

Production is due to commence in early 2019, but in the meantime, here’s my take on their 8yo single malt.

Crabbie’s 8yo
Highland Single Malt
46% ABV
£30.95 here

Nose: Quite malty and cereal driven – sugared brand flakes perhaps. There’s a sweet nuttiness, rich oak and a Toffee Crisp bar, all balanced with green fruits; apples, grapes and pear skins.

Palate: A little peppery spice to begin, with some slightly immature notes (tarty fruits and a solventy notes). Then there’s thick caramel, Muscovado, toffee apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and some weighty oak at the end.

Finish: Some root ginger keeps things zingy, along with dried fruit and some woody spices.

Overall: The depth of aroma and flavour is pretty good, and despite some immaturity on the palate initially (it is only 8 years old mind you) there’s a lot to keep you interested. It may not be the most complex of whiskies, but it’s rather enjoyable, and for a little over £30 you can do a helluva lot worse.



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