About the Clydeside Distillery
Last week I was lucky enough to be one of the first visitors at the new Clydeside Whisky Distillery which has just opened in Glasgow and offers tours, a shop, a cafe and of course a chance to sample a few drams. It is one of the first malt distilleries to be built in Glasgow for over a century.
Situated on the banks of the River Clyde just along from other popular city attractions including The Riverside Museum and the SSE Hydro, it forms part of an ongoing regeneration of the area. The Clydeside Distillery is housed in the characterful Old Pump House with a contemporary glass extension occupied by two giant copper stills. The building itself is a perfect representation of the old and new connections that tie the location, owners, production methods and Glasgow's whisky heritage together.
The distillery is able to produce up to 500,000 litres of spirit each year although you will have to wait several years until its first lowland malt will be ready for release. If you are in Glasgow and want to find out more about Scotch Whisky then this is a must visit. Whisky aficionados may be more interested in the history of Clydeside along with the growing revival of uisge beatha in the city.
Dating back to 1877, The Pump House with its distinctive clock tower that now houses Clydeside Distillery is situated at the historic Queen's Dock on the River Clyde. It is by no coincidence that this location was chosen as the latest venture in the very impressive Morrison family whisky portfolio,
The distillery chairman, Tim Morrison, is the great grandson of John Morrison who originally built the dock in 1836. John Morrison later partnered with Thomas Mason to form Morrison and Mason, a civil engineering and building firm that was responsible for building some of the most significant and notable structures in the city including Glasgow City Chambers.
The Pump House was originally designed to provide hydraulic power to operate the swing bridge servicing the commercial dock which witnessed the export of whisky with ships destined for all continents of the world.
Glasgow was once significantly involved in the production of whisky in Scotland and home to countless whisky distilleries with associated blending houses, bonded warehouses, bottling plants and cooperages, although very little evidence of this remains.
The history of the production and export of whisky in the city is told through a short film and self guided tour at the Clydeside Distillery.
The Morrison family themselves have a strong whisky heritage as brokers, merchants, blenders, distillers and exporters dating back to the early 1900s, having owned numerous distilleries and run some of the major whisky companies in the country along the way.
Although modern techniques have been adopted at the new distillery, in keeping with the theme of old and new, traditional skills have also been embraced. During a guided tour it is possible to watch the craftsmen distilling the spirit by hand.
Visiting & Distillery Tours
At the moment there is only one general tour option, which is the tour that I went on. There are three parts to the tour, beginning with a short film and a self guided wander through an area with exhibits and tales about Glasgow and the history of whisky. This is followed by a guided tour through the production process and finished off with a sampling of 3 drams from across Scotland in the Tasting Room.
One other thing to look out for as you walk around is the display cabinet of rare and collectible whiskies owned by Tim Morrison.
I would say The Clydeside Distillery general tour is a good choice for those that have little or no knowledge of Scotch whisky. If you have been on distillery visits before then the main attraction is the film and exhibit at the beginning as it is unlikely you will learn or see anything new in the production area which is fairly compact.
If you are a proper whisky enthusiast then the general tour may be a little basic for you so for a more personal experience I would consider booking a bespoke Queen's Dock Tour which is available for up to six guests by contacting the distillery in advance.
After the tour a visit to the well stocked shop is a must and although I didn't try the cafe I was happy to see that it offered lots of Scottish produce.
Glasgow is a city that has evolved so much over recent years. It is the place I was born and lived in most of my life, so I'm excited at the recent changes and regeneration taking place. The Clydeside Distillery is a great addition to the diverse range of attractions already on offer and being able to visit a working whisky distillery in the centre of the city is just another reason that tourists to Scotland should be adding Glasgow to their itinerary.
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Disclaimer - I visited Clydeside Distillery as part of a blogger event arranged by VisitScotland and People Make Glasgow. However, as always this blog post is my own opinion based on my personal experience.
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