Caledonian

The Caledonian distillery, originally known as Edinburgh Distillery, was built in Edinburgh in 1855, situated between the Haymarket train station and the Union Canal. The name was changed to Caledonian soon afterwards and the distillery was thenceforth referred to colloquially as The Cally. 

Read more

The Caledonian distillery, originally known as Edinburgh Distillery, was built in Edinburgh in 1855, situated between the Haymarket train station and the Union Canal. The name was changed to Caledonian soon afterwards and the distillery was thenceforth referred to colloquially as The Cally. 

Caledonian’s owners Menzies & Co., who had built Caledonian when their Sunbury distillery ran out of room for expansion, originally declined the opportunity to join the founding of Distillers Company Ltd in 1877 but relented in 1884 - a situation that persuaded other blenders including Andrew Usher to create North British distillery so as not to be too reliant on DCL’s favour. Caledonian remained part of DCL and its descendants thereafter.

The Caledonian distillery in its heyday was for a time the largest in Scotland - by the time Alfred Barnard visited in 1886 Caledonian had over 200 employees, including 11 excisemen, and was producing over 9 million litres of grain whisky a year in an enormous Coffey still, three pot stills and a Carter’s rectifying column with a spirit safe overseeing just shy of a thousand litres of spirit per hour. The pot stills were in place from 1867 until around the turn of the century and were dedicated to making a higher quality whisky in the Irish style, although one source mentions malt spirit being made at the distillery in the 1890s. 

In 1940 a Luftwaffe bomber hit one of Caledonian’s warehouses by the Haymarket station, with the resulting fire taking 30 engines to bring under control. The distillery ownership was transferred to Scottish Grain Distillers in 1966 but Caledonian did not survive long after the DCL/Guinness merger in 1986, with operations ceasing in 1988 as the new company United Distillers consolidated production in favour of Cameronbridge.  Most of the site and remaining buildings have since been converted to housing, but the Cally’s 300-ft smokestack chimney remains an Edinburgh landmark.

Read less