Plans for Fife-based gin, whisky and beer firm Eden Mill’s new distillery and visitor centre have been revealed.
The £8 million project which will be based at the St Andrews University in Guardbridge is already well under way, with around half of the money already secured to help bring the distillery vision to life.
Currently working with the university to run the Eden Mill distillery as carbon neutral by 2024, the power and heat for the stills will be supplied by a local energy network generated by biomass plant and field electricity. Solar panels will also be installed by the university on the roof of the distillery.
The whisky-making process will use water for distillation straight from the biomass, and, once used, the leftover water will journey back to the biomass to be reused. Carbon produced in making the spirit will be captured for the university’s chemistry department for academic use on site.
With a prominent year lined up for St Andrews next year with the 150th Open Golf Championship taking place in July 2022, Paul Miller, co-founder of Eden Mill, is determined to see the visitor centre open its doors by late spring next year.
Launching the brand in 2012, Paul anticipates around 36,000 visitors through the new premises’ doors in its first year, with 100,000 estimated by year three.
He said: “The project is on schedule to be opening in late spring 2022. We have a clear idea and are pretty confident about it. We need to be open by July 2022 as that is when the 150th Open is in St Andrews and the town will be showcasing itself to the world.
“I think we have a great package to offer people. In addition to the whisky production, we’ll also have the gin production and we’ll also be looking to create a botanical centre of excellence.
“We utilise a lot of local botanicals in our gin, from honeyberries from Cupar, to sea buckthorn from the east coast, to seaweed from Crail, but we also know there’s some botanicals we simply can’t get locally.
“We’ll be doing some bioponics and vertical farming to show people some of the different, interesting botanicals that you wouldn’t necessarily get around the local area. We can grow them and use them in our gin.
“The interaction with the university is really important to us and the site is looking incredible just now – it is really taking shape.”
Job creation and capacity
The distillery and visitor centre will create around 40 jobs between full-time and part-time vacancies, complementing the Glasgow site which is similar in numbers for bottling and administrative roles.
It will also welcome thousands of visitors to the area, further promoting St Andrews and the surrounding Fife attractions as a primary location for tourism in Scotland.
Paul added: “We’re anticipating 36,000 visitors in our first year, growing up to 100,000 visitors by the third year per annum. I think there will be a lot of interest and it is great to be able to complement what is already a really exciting scene in the area with Lindores Abbey Distillery and Kingsbarns Distillery. We recognise we need and want to add something different.
“Capacity wise it will take us to 900,000 litres of pure alcohol, which is how we measure whisky output per year, and we’ll have 4,500 casks within the year. Our gin capacity will more than double. With both Glasgow and St Andrews able to produce gin, it will take us to more than 1.5 million bottles of gin per year. There’s a good scope there for us to grow off the back of it.
“There will also be a cafe and a shop on the site, and there will be opportunities for corporate firms to hire out space to hold meetings and events in the private suite on the third floor.”
Stretching across three floors with different levels, Eden Mill will offer a range of experiences for locals and tourists alike.
From whisky tours to its already popular Blendworks experience which sees gin lovers create their own version of the trendy spirit, not to mention other experiences, there’s plenty for guests to look forward to.
“We want to add to what St Andrews and Dundee already has to offer as the benchmark is already so high. We will able to offer something different in terms of our level and commitment of sustainability, the connection with the university, and, with the consumer experience, we think people will really be able to immerse themselves in what we are doing. Hopefully we’ll add to what the town has to offer,” said Paul.
“We’ll be taking our Blendworks Gin School concept to the new site where guests spend two or three hours getting to make their own bottle of gin and we’ll run specific gin and whisky tours, and VIP whisky tours with access to some of the cask storage areas, too. Our beer production will take place elsewhere so we won’t be offering the beer element at the site.”
Casks: A part of history
With the likes of Rod Stewart, Celtic footballer Scott Brown and professional Scottish golfer Stephen Gallacher already owners of one of Eden Mill’s 300 odd whisky casks, the 1655 club, which is a cask-owning club, will see a small quantity be released to locals, allowing them to be a part of the distillery’s history.
He said: “We’re hoping we’ll be storing 300 of our initial whisky casks in the distillery space itself, and we’re looking at a site adjacent to the distillery as a long-term cask storing area to minimise transportation of the whisky.
“The 300 casks in the distillery will be the ones owned by our VIP members of our 1655 club. We’ve been releasing a small quantity of casks to different groups of people who have connected with the distillery over time. We could sell it five times over as the demand globally for casks is massive, but we’re trying to ensure we allocate a small quantity for locals and those who have previously supported us.
“Our VIP cask member clubs will benefit from access to our third-floor facilities, too. You’ll have your own bit of history which is something really special.
People can have a lot of fun with it as well as they can come along and have a taste of how their cask is maturing and bring their friends to the distillery. They get the chance to go on free tours twice a year and get their name inscribed into the cask – they might walk in and see their name beside the likes of Rod Stewart, Stephen Gallacher or Scott Brown.
“We set out in 2012 when we first launched to make something the people of St Andrews can be proud of and we hope we can continue to do so.”