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The Glasgow Distillery Company was founded in 2012 by drinks industry veterans Liam Hughes and Mike Hayward, in partnership with accountant Ian McDougall. Seeking to revive the cities lost malt whisky distilling heritage, they took inspiration from the long deceased Dundashill Distillery and named their business after the one-time owner of what became Glasgow’s last malt producer when it closed in 1902.
With funding secured from Asian investors and a Scottish Enterprise Grant, the men identified a location in Hillington Business Park in the southwest of the city and began producing Makar gin in 2015. Despite the award-winning success of that brand however, whisky was always at the heart of the project and they soon began filling casks of what was to become the first single malt produced in the city for more than a century.
2018 saw the arrival of 1770 Release No. 1, a brand named after the foundation date of the aforementioned Dundashill. Positive feedback followed from those fortunate enough to try it. For my part, I found it to be a malt of remarkable quality given its youth (when I reviewed it here).
Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to the distillery. It is a site which isn’t set up to handle large groups of whisky tourists, though there was an occasional tour program in partnership with the Tennents Brewery for a time but this seems to have ceased. Watch this space for further developments however. It was nice though to finally see inside what is essentially my local distillery, only a ten minute drive from my front door.
The distillery is housed in a rather grim shell of a building that shares more in common with the urban breweries of the United States than it does with the pagoda-crested quaintness of traditional scotch distilleries. Though it must be said, the copper stills stood out in all their gleaming glory against the austere concrete of their functional home.
One of the highlights of my visit was a small tasting of some new make spirit, some of which had been distilled from peated barley. Needless to say I have been waiting (im)patiently for the arrival of the mature product ever since. Then, finally, in late September, just as the leaves on my beech trees had started to change hue, a package arrived on my doorstep…
Smell: Earthy peat smoke right upfront. Lemon cake. Caramel & honey. Chocolate orange. Scottish tablet. Cinnamon and all-spice. Tar.
Taste: Caramel. Toffee. Orange creams. Pepper & tobacco smoke. Quality cigars. Warm, dry, spicy finish.
Value for Money: 50cl bottles remain the work of the devil, but nevertheless it is a fine dram that’s reasonably priced at £50 a bottle.
It’s not the most complex, but perhaps shows better balance than earlier versions, because the peated spirit has the strength of character to better stand up to the highly active casks. While it is likely a sensible decision to adopt such a wood policy in the brands infancy, it will be interesting to see how that evolves as older expressions become available in the years ahead. Will we see a subtler oak impact at 7, 8, 10 years old for example?
In the meantime, Glasgow maintains its reputation as one of the more exciting new kids on the block and with rumours of further experimentations reaching the legal minimum maturity, the months and years ahead look set to be an interesting time in the journey of this young distillery…
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