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In 2012, business partners Liam Hughes, Mike Hayward and Ian McDougall created the Glasgow Distillery Co., named after the company that ran the old Dundashill distillery between 1825 and 1832.
Dundashill was situated in the north of the city at the meeting point between the Forth & Clyde and Monklands Canals. Founded in 1770, it was eventually wound up in 1902, before being bought by DCL the following year and merged with the neighbouring Port Dundas distillery.
With the intention of returning malt whisky production to the city for the first time in over a century, the Glasgow Distillery Co. secured funding from private investors in Asia and acquired the lease for an industrial unit in the Hillington Business Park in the west of the city in 2013. The following year the site was up and running and had begun to produce Makar gin, now a highly successful brand in its own right with six different expressions on the market.
By March 2015, the company had begun to fill their first casks of whisky, under the guidance of Master Distiller Dr. Jack Mayo and it is those very same barrels that have now come of age in 2018.
Taking further inspiration from Dundashill, this first release of the Glasgow single malt is dubbed ‘1770’ after the year of the old distillery’s creation. It contains 3 year old, unpeated whisky that has been matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks then finished in virgin oak. Bottled at 46%, it was available by ballot only, for a price of £100 a bottle.
Smell: Layers of Vanilla, Coconut & Almond, Berries & Apples, Pepper, Paprika and Charred Oak.
Taste: Some Peppery heat, Juicy Raspberries, Red Apples, Vanilla and Toffee. Lovely silky texture on the palate.
Thoughts: Under normal circumstances, charging £100 for a 50cl bottle of 3 year old whisky could be categorised as daylight robbery. This is far from normal circumstances, though. This is the first bottling from a brand new distillery. Release No. 1 of a malt that has never existed before. As such, it will likely become something of a collectors item and no doubt soar in price over the coming years. So for a rare chance to taste the first malt of a new distillery, and from my hometown no less, I decided that I was willing to pay the £100.
For the first release of a new craft distillery, 1770 Release No. 1 is a bit of a triumph. There’s an incredible depth of flavour for a dram so young. Admittedly, the oak rather dominates proceedings and is likely covering up some of the flaws of youth but I’m not sure that really matters so long as it makes for a pleasant dram. Which it certainly does.
This only serves to heighten the anticipation for the next release, which by the way, should be a peated expression sometime in 2019. That will no doubt be a dram worth waiting for but in the meantime, should you be lucky enough to get hold of the first release, take my advice and open it. The pleasure to be gained from sipping on a brand new single malt whisky at the time of its initial release and living through an historic moment is far greater than whatever profit you might make from flipping the bottle in a few years time.