Glasgow Distillery places people at the heart of its tasting notes for first ever single malt

Distillery crowdsources tasting notes, using local knowledge to promote first Glaswegian single malt in over 100 years

Published 3rd May 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

People Make Glasgow is a popular expression used in Scotland’s largest city, but now the distillery that has launched the first single malt there in over 100 years has put the adage to the test, by asking local residents to help to create the tasting notes for their brand new whisky.

Glasgow Distillery Company, the makers of the popular Makar Gin, crossed a milestone recently by becoming the first independent distillery to create a single malt in the city since 1902.

Picture: 1770 whisky, supplied

To celebrate, a panel of Glaswegians were invited to turn their noses and palates to whisky tasting, with their notes set to become part of the “new spirit of Glasgow”.

Liam Hughes, CEO and co-founder, explained that as Glasgow was a constant source of inspiration it only seemed right to ask people who lived there to help shape how they would market the new release.

He said: “We spent a long time thinking about how we could get Glaswegians involved and it was only quite recently we came up with the idea of the local involvement with the tasting notes, and it all came together quite quickly after that. We felt it was the right thing to do, and the people who came along to the distillery were fantastic.

"They fully embraced the evening and the job at hand, so we were delighted, and their feedback was invaluable in terms of adding a unique dimension to the brand.”

Hughes explained that the release, which marks one of the most important stages of the relatively young distillery’s development, was important to reinforce the key part the city plays within the Scotch industry.

He said: “It is really important for us that Glasgow is recognised as a city where great whisky has been, and continues, to be made, given its position in the story of whisky history.

“With the Clydeside Distillery now producing and telling the Glasgow story in the beautiful surroundings that Tim Morrison has created, and with Douglas Laing’s Distillery getting under way soon, maybe the real story is the renaissance of Single Malt in Glasgow, which we are thrilled to be at the part of.”

Picture: Liam Hughes, Mike Hayward and Ian McDougall co-founders of The Glasgow Distillery Company, Chris Watt

The experienced distiller stated that the team were “absolutely thrilled” by the quality of their 1770 Single Malt – named for the original Glasgow Distillery, now long gone, which was founded in that year – and by the reaction from those that have tasted it .

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In Glasgow’s own words, the whisky looks like “golden honey”; smells of “freshly cut apple and pear drops”, and tastes like “orchard fruit, velvety sweet caramel and toffee with a warm smooth finish”.

The mixed panel of locals will now see their reflections on the spirit intertwined with those of the distillers upon release.

Liam Hughes said the new malt will be the first of three core expressions, with a peated expression set to follow the 1770 in 2019 and the first triple distilled expression released in 2020.

The bottle for the 1770 has been designed with the city’s industrial heritage in mind, with the city’s name embossed at the foot and each sealed with a unique, locally made heavyweight copper-topped cork.

He said: “It seems like only yesterday we were filling Cask Number One and a lot of thought and hard work has gone into the first release over the intervening years.

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"I certainly believe we have got as close to the vision we had in our minds about how the bottle would look and feel, which is a testimony to everyone involved.”

When news broke in March that the new whisky would be available to buy via ballot this summer, almost 3,000 people and distributors – from as far away as Hong Kong, Australia and Mexico – registered interest in a week.

But with only 5,000 bottles available, they will have to wait until next month to see if they are successful.

If you'd like to sign up for a chance to buy the whisky, please click here.

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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