Whisky distillers show city spirit

Plans for new production facility and visitor centre on River Clyde

• The Glasgow Distilling Company: (from left) Andrew Morrison, Kenny McAllister, Glen Moore and Tim Morrison.
• The Glasgow Distilling Company: (from left) Andrew Morrison, Kenny McAllister, Glen Moore and Tim Morrison.

By Dave Hunter

A PROPOSED distillery and visitor centre in Glasgow would aim to celebrate the city’s whisky heritage in addition to producing single malt whisky.

A team headed by Tim Morrison, formerly of Morrison Bowmore and now chairman of independent bottler AD Rattray, has lodged plans with Glasgow City Council to build a new £10 million distillery and visitor centre in the former ‘pump house’ building on the River Clyde.
Located close to the SECC and newly opened Hydro, the building has a link to Glasgow’s historic whisky industry, having at one time been occupied by customs and excise officers as they presided over the Queen’s Dock.
Should the plans be approved work on the project will begin immediately, and The Glasgow Distilling Company will aim to begin producing spirit in 2015.
Speaking to SLTN, Morrison paid tribute to the “fantastic job” being done in the Scotch whisky industry by companies such as Diageo and William Grant & Sons.
“Everyone is aiming at the quality end of the market, and I’m absolutely sure this is why we (the industry) are doing so well,” he said.
Morrison said the new project was driven by the increasing difficulty of sourcing stocks of mature whisky for AD Rattray.
After discussing how to tackle the problem, the team elected to launch their own distillery.
Once complete, the distillery would produce The Glasgow Malt Whisky, and Morrison confirmed that, in addition to the spirit used in the distillery’s own bottlings, stock would also be available for independent bottlers.
However, he said it was too early to speculate on the age of the distillery’s first bottling.
“I think it’s one of these things that the closer one gets to [having mature spirit], the easier perhaps it is to determine,” he said.
“There is no doubt that more and more distilleries are releasing whiskies at a younger age.
“I have my own personal views about that, but if there is demand for a small bottling of three year old, we might be happy to supply that.”
And Morrison said the company would look to work with the licensed trade in the city to promote the distillery and its whisky.
“Obviously it will be important to us that publicans and specialists give us their support,” he said.
“It certainly will be our intention to give them our support.
“I think we have established a reputation for our AD Rattray products, and it certainly is our intention to promote and develop the Glasgow spirit with those that are going to [sell] it.”
He added that the Glasgow Distillery visitor centre would highlight the city’s “great heritage” in the whisky industry.
“As far as the visitor centre is concerned, it will trace the history of the distilling industry, the bottling, blending and warehousing industries in Glasgow, and will feature the companies that were established in Glasgow,” he said.
“We want to tap into this incredible, historic industry.”
In addition to Morrison, the team includes chartered accountant and business advisor Kenny McAllister; Morrison’s son Andrew, who heads AD Rattray’s business in the US; and former Bowmore brand marketing director Glen Moore.
The production side will be headed by another former Morrison Bowmore alumnus, Harry Cockburn.