A HISTORIC name in Scotch is poised to return to the whisky-making world after plans were unveiled for a £7 million distillery in Leith, Edinburgh.

The Crabbie brand, which can be traced back to 1801, was revived by Halewood Wines & Spirits last year to market single malts from distilleries around Scotland for the first time since the 1970s.

Now the firm, which already sells a ginger beer and ginger wine under the Crabbie’s brand, has formally submitted plans to the City of Edinburgh Council to develop a distillery in Leith.

Analysis: Distillers' confidence unchecked by Brexit

Under the proposals from Halewood subsidiary John Crabbie & Co, a distillery will be built through the refurbishment and extension of a building on Graham Street - close to John Crabbie’s original premises at Yardheads, Great Junction Street. It is due to open in early 2019.

The Leith project is being spearheaded by Scottish drinks industry veteran David Brown, who has held senior roles with Whyte & Mackay, Belhaven, Caledonian Brewery and Allied Domecq.

Mr Brown revealed he was approached by Halewood to take on the job after it had made an unsuccessful takeover bid for the Glasgow Distillery Company, where he was commercial director. Describing himself as an “Edinburgh boy first and foremost”, he said the chance to set up a new distillery just three miles from his home offered the perfect “swansong” to his career. He turned 69 on Sunday. “This is my last throw of the dice – not a bad way to check out,” Mr Brown said.

Equally, he said the story of John Crabbie and his impact on the Scotch whisky industry was a big part of the appeal.

John Crabbie is credited with playing a pioneering role in the development of the Scotch whisky industry. He built his reputation on selecting the best casks from more than 70 distilleries around Scotland and selling them under his own brand. He developed a technique of blending whiskies from different casks to improve their flavour, ultimately selling his Scotch to markets as far afield as New Zealand.

Analysis: Distillers' confidence unchecked by Brexit

And, along with Andrew Usher, Mr Crabbie was instrumental in setting up the North British grain distillery in Edinburgh.

Mr Brown said Halewood is able to draw on a full archive of John Crabbie’s records, recipes and hand-written tasting notes, which was carefully assembled when the brand was owned by Macdonald & Muir, now Glenmorangie. He added that, while the Crabbie’s name has survived as a brand for ginger wine and ginger beer, the whisky element to the story has largely been forgotten.

“I thank him every morning when I wake up, because he has basically given me carte blanche to do whatever I like,” Mr Brown said.

“He was a blender, he was a distiller, he made gin, he made wine, he did all sorts of really interesting stuff. The more I read about him the more interesting it gets.”

Mr Brown added: “This guy is really important in the history of whisky. Andrew Usher is obviously commemorated greatly, but poor old Crabbie has disappeared in the mists of time, which is something I aim to change.”

Halewood plans to retrace John Crabbie’s footsteps by ultimately releasing whiskies from each of the 70-plus distillers he bought from. Those whiskies will eventually be supplemented by its own single malt after the distillery is up and running. There are no plans to introduce a blended Scotch.

Analysis: Distillers' confidence unchecked by Brexit

Halewood’s project is one of three new distilleries currently under development in Edinburgh, alongside proposals from Holyrood Distillery and the Port of Leith Distillery. The first to open will return single malt whisky making to the city for the first time in more than 100 years. Mr Brown said he is unconcerned about which opens first.

Meanwhile, he revealed that Halewood plans to distil gin at a site in Granton, near Leith. Its gin production will then be switched to Leith when the distillery is up and running, with the Granton site ultimately being used as a maturation warehouse.