It is always a thrill and a treat for me when I get a chance to learn more about the history and connections of things that I am passionate about. In Glasgow, at the start of our whisky trip, I was fascinated to learn how important this city is to the story of Scotch. Somehow, I had completely missed the relationship that this city, and its placement on the Clyde, has both with familiar brands and with the export of the Scottish “Water of Life” across the globe.
Fortunately in the brand new Clydeside Distillery I was taught the importance of this place while being treated to a stunning experience. The Clydeside Distillery was only opened in November of 2017 so they are years away from producing any Scotch, but this is a facility that has so much more to offer, especially as they get established. Started by Tim and Andrew Morrison of AD Rattray fame, this quickly-becoming iconic building is housed in an old pump house on the Clyde that used to power a bridge stretching across the waters. Restoring this beautiful old building and creating an impressive new distillery within it is just another piece of Tim and Andrew’s desire to help people connect to the history of this spirit while writing their own new chapter.
The Morrisons have a long history with Scotch itself, having created the Bowmore and Laphraoig brands, as well as others, but the father and son wanted to also show the role Glasgow and the Clyde played in this magical liquid. On the tour, one is treated to a short trip into the past of a city that rose to be the “Second City of the Empire” in the 18th century. The location of Glasgow and the creation of impressive docks and cranes allowed the movement of whisky, tobacco, sugar, and hundreds of other products across the British empire and beyond. Glasgow became the second most important port behind only London itself. It was here that the rise of blenders and the Whisky Barons took place, and the export of Scotch became big business with brands like Dewars.
The tour begins and ends in the gift shop. Rather than a standard gift shop simply stocking branded merchandise and their own products, Clydeside Distillery has created a carefully curated bottle shop with guests having an opportunity to buy from a wide range of whisky. The Morrisons believe in the history and connection of Scotch and want their guests to have a chance to taste various expressions even as they are creating their own. However, this does not mean that you cannot buy anything they are making. In addition to being able to purchase some truly remarkable bottlings, the Clydeside Distillery also boasts a fantastic cafe. In keeping with the mission of tying everything to place, this cafe sells local meats, cheeses, soups, and pastries. They also do whisky flights so guests can try their hands at pairing food and Scotch. I highly recommend the Taste of Scotland platter to anyone lucky enough to visit.
One other interesting item to note with this distillery: a visitor also has the ability to purchase the New Make spirit, or un-aged whisky, that the distillery is currently producing. While this is the sort of thing I generally steer away from I must admit that even with the high proof of the clear spirit there was something spectacular, soft, and fruity present, and I am excited to taste the whisky from this place.
- Andrew Stevens