Clydeside Distillery whisky
Clydeside Distillery
Whisky is made from water, yeast and grain. The vast majority of Scotch whisky sold is actually a blended mix of single malt and grain whiskies.
A whisky tasting
A proper whisky sample size
Evan a dram shop (a.k.a. a bar or tavern) has rules
Peanuts to go with tasting
The good stuff is locked up
The many shapes and sizes of whisky bottles
A flight dram souvenir set for the discerning taster
Of course, the exit is through the gift shop
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Making whisky in Glasgow

Home to more than 130 malt and grain distilleries, Scotland has the largest concentration of whisky producers worldwide. While much has been achieved through technological innovation, tradition still takes pride of place in many locations. Glasgow’s Clydeside Distillery is one such proud institution, with an impressive legacy that is still being maintained by its founding family.

The Queen’s Dock on the river Clyde

Situated beside the river Clyde, the Glaswegian distillery is intricately tied with the local history. The area it now encompasses used to be the Queen’s Dock — a busy port that previously welcomed and bid bon voyage to ships that sent the country’s finest whisky across the globe. Site construction began in 1863 by master builder and mason John Morrison, who also had a hand in constructing many of the city’s illustrious buildings (the City Chambers, Her Majesty’s Theatre and The General Post Office, to name a few). Additionally, he played a part in raising the West Highland’s Loch Katrine, a freshwater loch approximately forty miles from Glasgow that supplies the metropolitan area’s freshwater for residential and distillery purposes.

The birth of a Scottish whisky dynasty

In 1900, John’s son, Stanley Pringle Morrison, was born. A natural in the family business, at thirty-five years of age, Stanley established his whisky brokerage, the Stanley P. Morrison, with business partner Robert Lundie. The 1950s ushered in the age of the whisky baron, and Stanley thrived. At the time, blended whisky was the hot trend, and the landscape was full of independent firms hoping to secure “building blocks” to form their blends. As this required obtaining product from the competition, Stanley served as the middleman, selling “packets” of whisky to various firms while upholding the strictest confidentiality. Within a decade, Stanley had developed an impressive client portfolio and a solid reputation. He had even purchased several distilleries.

Reviving the Glaswegian whisky industry

Like their father, Stanley’s two sons, Tim and Brian, took to the business like a fish to water. After their respective apprenticeships, the brothers joined the family firm in the early 1960s. By 1984, Tim and Brian were at the helm of the family business (alongside their business partner James Howat). In 2017, Tim opened the Clydeside Distillery. Set in the former pump-house building that provided hydraulic power for the dock’s swing bridge, Clydeside is Glasgow’s first dedicated single malt whisky distillery in over a century. Tim had a vision of reviving the city’s whisky industry. And so, Clydeside celebrates the significance of Scotch whisky in shaping the city and region’s cultural identity.

Tasting bourbon & whisky

This is far from the end of Clydeside’s story. Slowly but surely, its product line is expanding to meet Tim Morrison’s dreams of re-establishing Glasgow as a star on the Scottish whisky map. Besides their flagship malt, guests are welcome to grab a bottle of their first fill bourbon. Made in 2018, its ABV is an astonishing 61.3 per cent, with a punchy fragrance that asserts this fact. And in honour of Glasgow hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), a limited 1,500-bottle run was produced. This special whisky underwent a two-part maturation process, firstly with American quarter casks before being transferred into American bourbon bottles, giving the liquid distinct smoky tones. Well on their way to reinvigorating Glasgow’s whisky game, I cannot wait to see what Clydeside Distillery comes up with next.

Text & Photos Victoria Mae Martyn