Cockburns of Leith opens first bottle shop in 226 years

COCKBURNS OF LEITH, Scotland’s oldest wine merchant, has opened its first shop in the company’s 226-year history.

The store – which sits on Frederick Street in Edinburgh’s New Town – will run wine tastings and provide free delivery within the capital and the Lothians.

Cockburns of Leith was established in 1796 by brothers Robert and John Cockburn, and served customers including Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, and King George IV.

The family also launched Cockburn’s Port in 1815, with Robert having served as a soldier in Portugal during the Napoleonic War.

Edinburgh’s Cockburn Street is named after the pair’s elder brother, who served as Scotland’s solicitor general.

The wine merchant was bought in 1973 by Canadian drinks conglomerate Seagram – owner of a plethora of Scotch whisky distilleries – and was later owned by Drambuie.

Murray Capital, the investment firm run by former Rangers football club owner Sir David Murray, bought the Cockburns brand out of administration in 2010.

Murray’s other drinks investments in Wine Importers.

Keith Murray, director of Cockburns of Leith, said: “We are excited by this next chapter in the Cockburns of Leith story, building on a 200-year heritage of excellence and conviviality as we seek to supply the very best of global wine and spirits to our customers.

“While online sales continue to grow, and are an important part of the modern Cockburns of Leith business, we also believe in the power of retail.

“That is why we have decided to open our first bottle shop, which comes at an exciting time of rejuvenation for Edinburgh’s commercial core.”

He added: “Customers are keener than ever to experience the brands they purchase first hand – by seeing and tasting them in store or hearing the history for themselves.

“Be it the worker who wants to pick up a bottle on their way home from the office, someone who prefers to browse the labels and hold the bottle in their hands before they buy, or a newer wine drinker who needs a little guidance – the best way we can serve these customers is through a physical shop, offering warm, personal and expert service.”

Karly Zagorac

Edinburgh also gets a new wine bar

News of Cockburns of Leith’s shop opening came as “A Wee Taste of Edinburgh” was launched on Leven Street in Bruntsfield.

The wine bar is the first permanent residence for Karly Zagorac, who began running food and drink tours in 2019.

Wine Importers is supplying the new bar, while Edinburgh-based Drinkmonger is providing Leith’s Pilot Beer and gin from the Secret Herb Garden.

Its grazing boards will feature produce from cheesemonger IJ Mellis, baker La Barantine, Aye Pickled, and Edinburgh Butter Company.

Zagorac said: “This business really began with my own passion for the producers and suppliers on our doorstep here in Edinburgh.

“We saw huge potential with the tours and they were beginning to really take off with tourists and locals alike just before covid hit.

“Thankfully, being a teacher by trade, I was able to continue working and planning for what was to come next, and I am so delighted to now be making a permanent home in Edinburgh for our wee business.”

She added: “We hope that, over time, the tours will be brought back and perhaps they will finish at A Wee Taste with a nice glass of wine and delicious local treats.

“For now, we are so excited to welcome guests to our new spot in Bruntsfield and can’t wait to throw open our doors.”

Read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s food and drink pages.

Plus, don’t miss Blair Bowman’s whisky column in the July issue of Scottish Field magazine.