In an inadvertently hipster move, the original distillery was installed in the old James Dunbar lemonade factory, and was about the size of a small kitchen. It had a ten litre glass still, a sink, and some benches, but it got things going. This was where Achroous gin was born.
Since then, things have grown dramatically. Electric helped the team at the port of leith distillery get up and running with their gin production, and together, we moved into the Tower Street Stillhouse. We now share a 500 litre Genio G-Still, a forklift, and a frankly palatial shed that serves as our distillery office.
To our knowledge, the way we work together is unique in the distilling world. We regularly bicker like an old couple, but we love each other really.
James grew up in Edinburgh, before studying product design at Glasgow School of Art, and moving to London to work as a designer. His job was in service design, which involved a lot of Post-It notes and felt-tip pens. He worked for an agency in Shoreditch, but dressed far too badly to be considered a hipster.
While there, he became a bit of a craft beer nerd, and subsequently decided he wanted to start a brewpub. Moving back to Edinburgh, he joined Heriot Watt’s Brewing & Distilling MSc programme, and realised he was actually more interested in distilling. He focused on botanicals for his dissertation project, graduated first in the faculty and started putting together a plan for what would, after a fashion, become the Electric Spirit Company.
He remains the only full-time employee, and loves a negroni.
The port of Leith’s history is soaked in the water that laps against its shore. A commercial dock for hundreds of years, its foundations are built on maritime trade, shipbuilding, and of course, delicious booze.
Although much of the traditional industry has been swept away over the years, drinks production has left an indelible mark on the area. Aside from the long-departed Lochend, Bonnington and Links distilleries, the histories of brands like Johnnie Walker and Vat 69 are woven into Leith’s past, while blenders like Andrew Usher, W. M. Sanderson & Sons, and J. G. Thomson were all based here, with the latter housed in what is now the headquarters of the Scottish Malt Whisky Society.
It's not always been on the straight and narrow - the Pattison brothers, famous for giving away 500 trained parrots to squawk promotional catchphrases, bankrupted their business, and were jailed for mislabelling cheap whisky. Although Electric is proud to have brought distilling back to the old port, it endeavours to stay on the right side of both the law, And parrot lovers.