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Leith, a vibrant district of Edinburgh, is a bustling port with its distinctive architecture and its evolving arts scene. Whisky distilling is a traditional and growing industry in Scotland and abroad. It is becoming increasingly common for new distilleries to be used as manufacturing facilities and tourist destinations.

Opening its doors in 2023, this new scotch whisky distillery and visitor attraction sits on a site with limited space. Therefore, it adopts a vertical distillation process, with the shop, restaurant and bars sitting above the distillery. Jensen Hughes team got involved in risk assessment and code compliance services while developing the fire strategy for the distillery.

The vibrant past of Leith, known for its port and distinctive architecture, creates an engaging backdrop that complements the distillery’s offering. While ensuring the safety of both the distillery and port is essential, we checked several Scottish government publications to develop a fire safety plan. Although the Scottish Technical Handbooks provide guidance for a wide range of building types, they do not cover the unique fire safety requirements of distillery buildings.

Hence, our team of experts gathered additional guidance beyond Building Regulations when developing the fire strategy for the Port of Leith Distillery. This included the Scottish government publication, Practical Fire Safety Guidance for Factories and Storage Premises, and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), as well as ATEX requirements.

Our holistic assessment of these documents and processes identified risks unique to the distillery:

  • Flammable vapours and carbon dioxide released from mash tuns and washbacks (large containers filled with liquid during the distillation process).
  • Flammable vapours released from the stills.
  • Flammable vapours released from any blending processes.
  • Element used to heat the stills acting as an ignition source.
  • Hot surfaces acting as ignition sources.

Our team recommended mitigating the above risks associated with flammable dusts, gases and vapours by:

  • Reducing sources of fuel as much as possible. For example, ensure that storage and handling of flammable dusts/gases/vapours are carefully managed, that regular cleaning prevents the accumulation of dusts/gases/vapours, and that venting and extraction are provided where required.
  • Reducing sources of ignition as much as possible. For example, select appropriate electrical equipment and ensure proper operation and maintenance of this equipment.
  • Separating fuel and ignition sources as much as possible. For example, separate using physical walls and create as much distance as possible.

Much of the documentation we provided is beyond Build Regulations and requires a full fire risk assessment by a specialist assessor before the building is occupied under the Fire (Scotland) Act. The requirements cannot necessarily be captured within the initial design of the building. By considering the specific risks of a distillery building beyond standard Building Regulations, the Jensen Hughes team can determine areas where the design can be made safer.

The Port of Leith Distillery stands as a testament to the convergence of whisky distillation, tourism, and cultural celebration. By embracing its role as both a whisky production facility and a visitor attraction, our team takes pride in getting involved in this project and facilitating a safer place for tourists to enjoy the rich heritage of Scotland.

Project Details

Project Team

Muckle Brig Ltd.

Project Location

Leith, Scotland

Estimated Project Cost


Project Size

Ten storey, 1200m2 floor area




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Eu Jin Teh

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