Welcome to

The International Centre for Brewing & Distilling

A unique teaching & research facility meeting the needs of the brewing, distilling & malting industries worldwide



The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) is a major division of the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. Consequently the research programme emphasizes the biochemical and microbiological aspects of brewing and distilling, especially cereals, including malting, and fermentation.



ICBD 25 years

The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) is a unique teaching and research facility. The centre is based on a partnership between industry and academics, and makes up part of the School of Life Sciences located in the Riccarton campus of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

The ICBD is the only organisation in the UK to offer both Honours and Masters degrees in Brewing and Distilling. As such, the centre not only supplies the industry with new-blood graduates, but with services, expertise and facilities consistent with the standards required in the local, national, and international markets. A variety of courses are available both on campus and by distance learning and short courses and workshops are catered for on request.

News & events

Wherever you are in the world, you're unlikely to be far from a graduate of Heriot-Watt.

Heriot Watt Former Brewing Students Association:

Midseason Event

Friday 18th September

The Heriot Watt University Former Brewing Students Association would like to invite former brewing students, new brewing students and members of the IBD to join them on Friday 18 September 2015 at Thomson's Bar in Edinburgh for a social evening.

This is a great opportunity for old and new member s to meet, socialise and find out more about the Former Brewing Students Association and their annual dinner to be held in February 2016.

If anyone requires more information on the evening please contact Amy Cockburn at

More information will also be available through the ICBD twitter (//">@ICBDatHWU)


Recent Events:

Natural Selection Brewing vs Spirited Botanists!


Our MSc Brewing & Distilling project teams celebrated their work with an event at The Cask & Still, Leith Walk, Edinburgh on Thursday 30th July. There wasl a one-off double-dry-hopped cask of Bitter Descent along with Seaside Gin.



ICBD 25 anniversary

ICBD Anniversary Dinner


Over 350 guests came together recently to celebrate the first 25 years of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) at Heriot-Watt University.

Alumni, students, staff and supporters all raised a glass to celebrate a quarter century of the only organisation in the UK to offer both Honours, Masters  and Doctorate degrees in Brewing and Distilling. Guest speakers included Dr Pearse Lyons, President of Alltech Lexington Brewing and David Frost CMG, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association.
The evening, organised in collaboration between the ICBD and Heriot-Watt's Development & Alumni Relations Office, was brought together by our wonderful MC for the night, Frances Cairncross. You can view a selection of photos from the dinner at ICBD 25th Anniversary Dinner.

The evening also saw a passing of a baton as Roy Summers, the outgoing Chair of the ICBD Advisory Board, was presented with a commemorative Quaich by Professor Dr Alan Barclay, who has taken on the role. Alan will lead the board and work with the ICBD to expand and improve its facilities and the Centre’s research and educational outputs.

ICBD graduates are recognised across the world as having first-class education and training in all aspects of the industry. Notable alumni have founded many leading breweries and distilleries, including Stewart Brewing, Brew Dog and Millstone Spirits.

The next 25 years are already looking bright, with £132,500 raised towards a £250,000 capital campaign to refurbish and redesign ICBD’s premises. This will significantly enhance the student experience, ensuring ICBD graduates remain some of the best in the world. To find out more about how this aim can be supported, go to Our alumni - ICBD.




2nd Annual "Ginposium"

Thursday 30th April 2015, Covent Garden, London

Heriot-Watt University and The Gin Guild



On Thursday 30th April some of the world’s most respected personalities and experts from the drinks and gin trade joined forces for to share their knowledge and expertise on all things gin, in the second annual Ginposium seminar.


Please see below for the full list of speakers and the running order of the event.


9.15 - 9.30

Christopher Hayman from Haymans Distillers opens the event and explains The Gin Guild and the Ginposium in more depth


09.30 - 10.00

Rachel Rees from Campden BRI, discussed the factors which can effect flavour and aroma damage in the bottle


10.00 - 10.30

Mark Gamble from Union Distillers Ltd, talked about the myth and materials of water, including whether water source makes a difference in a distilled product. The water was tasted, using a test gin distilled with different water samples used to illustrate a number of different waters


11.00 - 11.30

John McCarthy, Master Distiller at Adnams Distillery led a seminar called ‘Grain to glass’, which examined the benefits of distilling your own base spirit


11.30 - 12.30

A Panel of industry experts had a discussion on Brand Ambassadorship - the cornerstone of modern brand development. In the session the best known people in the modern on-trade reviewed how brand building is changing on and off line, and talked about the key roles of ambassadors in holding the attention of the bar trade in the UK, Spain and the US.

Examples that were referenced included from 20 years of launching and building to scale, Bombay Sapphire, Hendricks and G’vine (including the example of Jam Jar, funded through crowd sourcing and engaging with communities on line).


The panel included:

Duncan McRae, Global Ambassador for Hendrick's Gin

Sam Surl, Ex Alphabet bar and independent expert in Gin and the on trade

Jamie Walker, Trade Engagement Director for EWG Spirit & Wine

Dan Thwaites, Owner of Jam Jar gin

Chaired by Justin Hicklin


12.30 - 13.00

David T Smith, freelance journalist and owner of Summer Fruit Cup led a session on Tutored Tastings including a selection of gins


14.00 - 14.30

Nate Brown, The London Bar Consultants / Merchant House led a seminar on ‘Marketing spin or material consideration’, examining a range of topics including the importance of a brand name to the issue of Artisan and Craft claims.


14.30 - 15.00

Professor Alex Speers, from Heriot Watt University led a seminar on ‘Designing a sensory panel and avoiding bias - the basics’


15.00 - 15.30

David T Smith, freelance journalist and owner of Summer Fruit Cup led a second session on Tutored Tastings including a selection of gins


16.00 - 16.30

Dr Anne Brock from the Bermondsey Distillery discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both single shot and multi shot gin methods in her session on production processes, ‘Concentrate and focus. One shot or not?’


16.30 - 17.00

Nik Fordham, Bombay Sapphire Master Distiller talks to the audience at The Ginposium about Destination Distilling and the progression and results achieved from Laverstoke Distillery


17.00 - 18.00

Speaker and visitors were invited for Gin & Tonic and networking in the Theatre foyer


Speakers included:

Christopher Hayman, Hayman Distillers

Rachel Rees, Campden BRI

Mark Gamble, Union Distillers – Two Birds gins

John McCarthy, Adnams Distillers & Brewers, winner of the 2013 IWSC Gin Trophy

David T Smith, Leading author and owner of, he is also an international spirits competition judge.

Nate Brown, The London Bar Consultants

Professor Alex Speers, Heriot-Watt University

Dr Anne Brock, Jensen’s Distillery

Nik Fordham, Master Distiller at the Laverstoke Distillery, the home of Bombay Sapphire


IBD Scottish Section Events:

January 2015: Videoconference event. Details including posters and presentations are available on our publications page.


October 2014: Visit to Stewart Brewing & Seminar




Hop Growers of the Americas:

Monday 1st September, 2014

Hop Growers of the Americas ran an excellent seminar featuring Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker.




 Chicago 6th June

Alumni Reception:

Friday 6th June, 2014

The Gage, Chicago

During the Master Brewers Association of the Americas Annual Conference, Professor Alex Speers hosted an informal reception for all alumni and current students at the ICBD.