Holyrood Distillery Launches New Whisky Cask Program For 2022

Scotland’s Holyrood Distillery recently launched a unique cask program with two peated expressions, in which the whisky makers chose to emulate the smoky past of Edinburgh’s cityscape.

A statement from the distiller notes that both casks showcase the tradition and innovation that utilizes different techniques of production to create two unique distillates, named Heavily Peated and Rauch Malt.

At one time, smoke encapsulated the city of Edinburgh, with large clouds hanging over the city and residents woke to the smell, taste and sight of smoke. In fact, it gave the city the nickname “Auld Reekie” (Old Smoky).

Holyrood Cask Program

The Holyrood Cask Program (image via Holyrood)

Holyrood Distillery has a connection with this time in Edinburgh’s history, as the distillery building once housed the old goods shed of the railway, back in 1813, which transported coal that powered Edinburgh’s fires.

With this year’s cask program, the team at Holyrood look to bring certain elements of Auld Reekie back to the whisky world with its use of smoked brewers malts and the traditional whisky style of Islay.

The first of the two casks, Heavily Peated, uses Islay peated malt in a sherry wood.

Head Distiller Marc Watson said that peated whiskies have a symbolic home with the island of Islay.

“Among distillers and drinkers alike, Islay and its distilleries have reached legendary status. We aim to pay homage to Islay with a heavily peated expression that remains true to ourselves as distillers,” he said. “Our goal is not to emulate the great distilleries of Islay, but to celebrate them. What would ‘made by Edinburgh’ be if it was instead made by Islay?”

Holyrood distillers noted that using the Norwegian ale yeast Kviek alongside their malts gave a balance of smoke, orange, and a more full texture to the expression.

For maturation, Holyrood uses 250-liter Spanish sherry hogsheads, with a choice of either first fill Cream sherry or first fill Pedro Ximénez sherry.

The second cask in the 2022 program, the Rauch Malt is a brewer’s whisky created with smoked brewer’s malt and aged in a lightly toasted port wood.

The distiller noted that as it softens these smoky flavors, the addition of Caramalt imparts a subtle sweetness to the distillate, finished with a small amount of heavy peat (50ppm) to create the characteristic coal smoke flavors. For maturation, Holyrood uses 225-liter, lightly toasted, first-fill port barriques.

“We continue to build upon traditional methods of production from brewing to innovate the Scotch whisky industry,” Watson said. “Our lightly peated expression for 2022 builds upon our previous new make releases, utilizing a rich catalog of brewing malts and specialty yeasts. Our experimentation with smoked malts started a journey of exploration and refinement, culminating in a new way to create and experience lightly smoked whisky.”

Whisky enthusiasts are able to purchase one of these casks and be a part of Holyrood’s Scotch journey, ahead of the inaugural single malt release later this year. Those who buy a cask will receive a sample spirit on its first, third and 10th birthday.

The Peated Cask is priced at £5,000 and the Smoked at £3,500.

For more information, check out www.holyrooddistillery.co.uk/cask-programme.


Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...