Our tour of the new Clydeside distillery starts with Michael, later picked up by Patrick who’s mother works for A. D. Rattray – the independent bottling company revived in the early 2000’s by Tim Morrison [son of Stanley P. Morrison].
In the early 1900’s, Stanley Pringle Morrison became one of Glasgow’s most successful whisky brokers. He helped establish T. William Walker & Co., purchased whisky merchant A.D. Rattray in 1925 and set up a whisky brokerage with partner Robert Lundie in 1935. As partners, they acquired Chivas Brothers a year later.
In 1961, Tim Morrison joined the family business. [Further reading: website].
THE PUMP HOUSE
- In 2011, Tim Morrison along with his son Andrew Morrison and business partner Glen Moore purchase a site by the Queen’s dock that included the Old Pump House – in recent times an Indian then Italian restaurant.
- The Pump House [along with the Queen’s dock], was built in 1877 by Tim Morrison’s great grandfather – John Morrison and his building firm Morrison & Mason.
- Serving the Clyde’s commercial trade & shipping interests, the Pump House opened & closed a swing bridge [see pic], using hydropower.
- With shipping in decline, the 1970’s saw the dock filled in using rubble from the demolition of St. Enoch railway station.
- The Clydeside distillery opened in 2017, fulfilling Tim’s ambitions of reviving distilling in Glasgow.
Attention to detail at the new distillery is top-notch. From the expansive shop [where every distillery-exclusive option is on offer], to the succinct & informative family-centric historical presentations and the old blends collection for example, the entire visitor experience is spectacular. The tasting rooms are equally as immaculate, as is the presentation from staff.
A slightly bemusing video to kick off the tour paints a light & glamourised picture of the industrial revolution, but it’s all part of the emphasis on the deep-rooted family connection with the area at the time. Provenance at this new distillery is sky-high.
Loch Katrine supplies drinking water to all of Glasgow’s resident’s as well as surrounding distilleries, Loch Lomond and Auchentoshan. We are told the Clyde has been unused as a water supply since the cholera epidemics of the 1800’s. Similar to Pulteney, the water at Loch Katrine is brought to the city 40 miles away via raised beds, tunnels and aqueducts – those clever Victorians.
Our guide tells us, as all the tours do, that three ingredients make whisky, but of course, that’s not correct. Three ingredients make new make spirit!
“It doesn’t look like it was easy getting the equipment in” I say, after observing the crossed steel-beamed newer structures and the solid walls throughout the old Pump House, Apparently it took several attempts over three days to get the stills in.
- PPM – none.
- Their AR4000 mill is similar to Wolfburn’s AR2000, but has four rollers over two.
- Their 1 tonne mash tun is the same size as at Ballandalloch.
- 8 stainless steel washbacks.
- 1 pair of stills.
- Operating only three days of seven, Clydeside are aiming to fill around 102 cask per week and produce 280,000 litres per year.
- US ex-bourbon barrels are used for maturation as standard.
As there’s no whisky yet, we were offered to try three single malt whiskies from three different regions. All we were told [aside from the region], is they were all ex-bourbon 10yo’s bottled at 40%, exclusively for the Clydeside distillery [info].
Lowland 10yo  Un-Ob. for Clydeside distillery 40%
- C: I guessed this as Auchentoshan immediately – that unmistakeable quince jelly & rose water note a total giveaway, but who knows? Overall it’s a peppery, light sweet whisky appearing a little under-aged.
Scores 81 points
Highland 10yo  Un-Ob. for Clydeside distillery 40%
- C: Very Balblair-ish though somewhat like the standard Glenmorangie 10yo also – so a Highland for sure. This is more rounded than the Auchentoshan with a metallic sour finish. Easy/light drinker.
Scores 82 points
Islay 10yo  Un-Ob. for Clydeside distillery 40%
- C: Saving the best till last, we’ve a medium-light styled malt with a sweet cream, medium peat/low smoke profile.
Scores 83 points
Before we left, we got to try the new make spirit, “a must” as I keep saying, for any distillery tour.
Clydeside New Make Spirit  Ob. 63.5% [20cl] WB77
With spirit running out at a slow five litres per minute, their cut is between 76-71%. It’s then bottled at 63.5% and available to try & buy in the shop.
- N: Mild/neutral.
- T: Fairly neutral, delicate/light, raisiny bready spirit.
- F: Decidedly light.
- C: Perfectly unremarkable, blank canvas/clean spirit. Alister McDonald, formerly of Auchentoshan, is currently the master distiller at Clydeside.