Distillery Visit: The Clydeside Distillery

clydeside distillery

The day I chose to visit The Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow was one of those weird days when it’s sunny one second and pouring down with rain the next. I got the bus over from Edinburgh for only £10 which I almost prefer to taking the train since it’s usually quite quiet and comfortable. It only takes about 1h 20min so basically the same time as the train anyways, and it’s cheaper. 

To get to the distillery you can walk which takes about 46 minutes from the bus station or if you want a shorter walk then you can get the subway to the nearest station. I also realised that there’s a hop on/hop off bus that takes all the way there as well. Perfect if you want to discover more of Glasgow as well. I like walking so I decided to take my umbrella and stroll along the streets. They also have good instructions on how the get there on the website if you want other options as well. 

First thing I can say is that it’s a stunning building in a nice location. Situated just by the Clyde is this magnificent building that used to be the pump station for the queens dock. And I mean look at the still room – anyone else get a little bit excited every time they catch the first sight of a pair of stills, or just me?

The building has never been a distillery before but was often surrounded by alcoholic liquids since the bypassing ships used to import and export beer, wine and whisky, as well as other merchandise such as spices and cotton.

In this part of the building (see below), where the massive windows are on the left, is where the café and shop is, as well as the starting point for the tour. I didn’t have enough time to try any drinks or food, but it looked like a good menu with a few different option such as soup or whisky donuts (!) as well as a few different drinks (both alcoholic and not). 

The Clydeside doesn’t have its own whisky yet but in the shop you have the opportunity to label your own bottle of mystery whisky from either the lowlands, highlands or Islay. A perfect gift for yourself or a friend who’s a whisky enthusiast. 

Make sure you’re at the starting point at your appointed time so you don’t miss anything. If you’re having something to eat in the cafe you can let the staff know what time your tour starts so they know when you need to be away. 

Se till att vara vid startpunkten på turens utsatta tid så du inte missar något. Om du äter något i cafét kan man säga till när ens tur startar så de vet när man måste iväg.

It all starts off in their cinema room, to show what life used to be like around the pump house back in its hay day. 

With subtitles in English of course, if the Glaswegian accent gets a wee bit difficult to understand. 

The second part after the cinema is a self guided part which will take you through Glasgows whisky history, some of the essentials and some interesting stuff about the whisky barons. I’m very nerdy about the barons and I always try and learn as much as possible about their interesting legacy. Here you could also watch a shorter video about some of the barons as an introduction. 

Then you meet your guide again and its time to start going through whisky production. You get the chance to have a look and a smell of both unpeated and peated barley as well as seeing the dry yeast they use at Clydeside. I’ve never before seen anyone show a small glass of dry yeast on a tour, but thought it was a nice touch. 

Sedan träffar man sin guide igen och det är dags att gå igenom whiskyproduktion. Man får chansen att titta och dofta på både rökig och orökt kornmalt och även se torrjästen man använder på Clydeside. Jag har aldrig förut sett någon visa upp deras jäst i ett litet glass under turen, och tyckte det var en trevlig detalj. 

It’s nice too see that Glasgow is becoming a whisky hub once more, since there’s more whisky history here than most people realise. It’s easy to believe that all whisky hubs were either in Speyside or Islay or even in the highlands, and not in cities like Edinburgh or Glasgow.

This is also where you get to learn about the distillery’s water source which is Loch Katrine, which is also the water source for Glasgow’s tap water. So don’t worry, it’s not water from The Clyde. 

After going through malting, milling & mashing it’s time to have a look at the mash tuns and wash backs. Our guide Donald told us they’re doing a fairly short fermentation and all of this makes me so curious and excited to see what the spirit will be like. I regret not buying any new make (which they are selling in the shop) to see what its like before maturation. Donald also said they’d just completed two weeks of peated runs. Interesting…

Gotta love a still room, and this one is particularly stunning. Only one set of stills, but that’s really all you need. 

The stills have been running spirit for less than two years, starting November 2017. So it’s still over a year to go before there’s liquid that can be called whisky at the distillery. But it’s gonna be super exciting to find out what it’s gonna be like. 

Rainy and sunny at the same time.

Donald, who was our guide was very helpful och knowledgeable and told us he’s from Bowmore on Islay when one of the guests asked where his accent was from. Here in the still room he also showed us the different parts of the distillate – the heads, hearts and tails – and made us notice the little floating blue copper residue which you can see in the heads (foreshots).

And then it was time for the tasting. The distillery may not have their own spirit yet but through the regional mystery malts; one from the lowlands, one from the highlands and one from Islay – they manage to give you a fair idea of how these whiskies generally differ from each other. 

My personal favorite was the highlands because I was in the mood for something sweet and the taste reminded me of homemade caramel sauce. 

Which made me this happy!

By the time the tour ended it was blue skies and no rain once more. 

I did the standard tour where you get to sample three whiskies, but there’s also two other options: the distillery manager tour which sounds very interesting where you get to learn about the distillery a bit more in depth, and also the chocolate & whisky tour which takes you round the distillery but finishes with five drams each paired with a chocolate praline.

Next time I’m here, I’ll definitely bring some friends to try the chocolate & whisky tasting which looks absolutely amazing. 

+ you get to enjoy the same amazing view as the stills overlook every single day. I’m a big fan of pairings since it gives you a different way to explore flavor and see how the two things affect each other. 

Looking for more distilleries?

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AUTHOR

Moa Nilsson

Adventurous Swede with a fondness for castles, snow and vintagesque experiences.

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