Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 13:59 UK

Control tower to stop malt smell

Whisky (Generic)
The distillery makes 10 bottles of whisky every second

An historic Edinburgh distillery is to have its famous scent suppressed by an odour control tower.

The North British Distillery's roasted malt smell has given the capital air a distinctive tang since 1885.

But the famous smell will be consigned to history under a new deal between the environment agency Sepa and the distillery.

The proposal is to build a 30-metre an artificial emissions tower to reduce the distillery's environmental impact.

Previous improvements have dampened the once heavy malt smell, but now it is to be eradicated altogether.

Smells define a place and they're important to identify with something
Michael Way
Edinburgh resident

Ian Ford, company secretary with the distillery said: "This is just one part of an overall strategy to reduce our impact on the local environment, as we are a major industrial unit close to the city centre."

However, some locals were slightly bewildered by the need to put an end to the scent, which can be smelt strongly in the winter months.

Councillor Donald Wilson, whose ward covers the distillery, said he had never heard anyone complain about the smell before.

He said: "Certainly there used to be a very strong aroma, as we had the drying whisky scent from the distillery and the yeasty smell from the Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, which has since closed.

"In the 25 years I have lived here I have never had a problem with it, and I have never heard anyone complain about it.

"I would have said that it was distinctive of the area.

"However, if they are installing this tower to improve the environment then it is to be welcomed."

Michael Way, 24, from Edinburgh, said: "It is very much a part of Edinburgh. Smells define a place and they're important to identify with something."

Tonnes of cereal

The firm, which employs 110 staff at the site and 65 at a maturing plant just outside the city - currently supplies raw whisky for many brands, including Macallan, J&B Rare and Famous Grouse.

The distillery makes 10 bottles of whisky every second and use 150,000 tonnes of cereal each year.

It was set up in 1885 when the Gorgie area of the city was still being built, and along with the now closed Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, was responsible for the toasty malt scent that hangs over the city.

The site was originally chosen because fresh water could be easily sourced from the Pentland Hills through the Union Canal.

Owen Foster from Sepa said: "The North British Distillery already operates under a pollution prevention and control permit issued by Sepa.

"The planning application is part of ongoing improvement works to control and mitigate odour, which have been the subject of previous and ongoing discussions between the site operators and Sepa."

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