Glasgow's back on the Scotch Whisky Map
- Jay Thundercliffe
- 5 September 2017
Glasgow is currently enjoying a revival of its rich whisky heritage with the imminent opening of its second distillery in the last few years
Anyone passing by the old Pump House between the Riverside Museum and the SEC on 21 March this year would have been greeted by the unusual site of copper stills dangling on the end of a crane. The two stills weighing a couple of tonnes apiece were being installed into the new Clydeside Distillery and visitor attraction due to open later this year.
The new distillery is owned by Morrison Glasgow Distillers, a company set up in 2012 by Tim Morrison, formerly of Morrison Bowmore Distillers and current proprietor of the AD Rattray Scotch Whisky Company. His son Andrew Morrison, commercial director, has family ties to the site beyond his dad's recent project: 'Few people know the historical significance of the Pump House building, which was actually built by my great great grandfather in 1877,' he explains. 'It's fantastic to know we will be bringing it back to life again. Glasgow was once home to numerous whisky distilleries and we think the Clydeside Distillery will put Glasgow right back on the Scotch whisky map.'
For some time, the story of Scotch seemed to be one of a slow decline in numbers, with distilleries mothballed or closed, or subsumed into larger global corporations. Yet, the rennaissance of artisan food and drink that has swept the country in recent years has helped independents to touch the once-untouchable whisky industry, with distilleries popping up or in the pipeline across the whole of the UK.
It's the waiting game that often proved the biggest obstacle. It takes a serious lump of cash – the Clydeside Distillery is costing £10.5 million – and a lot of patience before there's any drop to drink. There are other income streams in the early days such as pre-sales, club memberships, visitor centres and other spirit lines, particularly gin and vodka, which can all ease the cash flow issues in the early years.
One company that went the gin route was the city's other recent newcomer, the Glasgow Distillery Company – the first malt whisky distillery in the city for 112 years when it began operations in Hillington in 2014. David Thompson, brand ambassador, explains the issue: 'Unlike gin which is ready for the consumer shortly after production, whisky keeps you waiting. The spirit has to rest in the cask for three years and one day before it can legally be called whisky, and we still have several months before reaching that milestone.' In the meantime, the company has been busy picking up awards for their growing range of Makar Gin – with Old Tom, Oak Aged and Mulberry versions now available, as well as G52 Vodka.