The ongoing transformation of Glasgow from gritty also-ran to tourism showstopper took another step forward this year with the debut of the Clydeside Distillery on the banks of the River Clyde. The grand opening, which took place Nov. 23, is producing the first whisky in the area in more than a century.
More importantly, at least from a tourism point of view, is the distillery's dual function as an interactive visitor center showcasing the traditional method of producing spirits and the importance of whisky to the history of Glasgow.
The attraction is located between the Riverside Museum and SSE Hydro, an indoor events arena on the site formerly known as the Queen's Dock, which once functioned as the heart of Glasgow's shipping industry. The Queen's Dock closed in 1969 and was transformed into the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Today the distillery features two functioning copper stills, each weighing around two tons, crafted by Scottish coppersmiths Forsyths of Moray.
The building itself, designed by Hypostyle Architects, includes the Pump House, where the whisky is made; an imposing clock tower; a shop; and a cafe. Perhaps inspired by the continuing popularity of Dublin's blockbuster Guinness Storehouse attraction, the distillery lets visitors relive the 140-year history of Glasgow's whisky industry via words, pictures, film and live animation, created in conjunction with Bright3D, a company that offers interpretive design through a range of media.
Called the Dockside Story, the tour invites visitors -- either via a guided tour or on their own to watch distillers at work, taste "three wee drams" of single malt whiskys from around Scotland, label their own bottle to take home and shop for souvenirs.
It's interesting to note that the Clydeside Distillery project was a labor of love. It is owned by Morrison Glasgow Distillers, whose chairman, Tim Morrison, is the great grandson of John Morrison, who originally built the Queen's Dock in 1877.
"After more than a century, copper stills are producing spirits on the banks of the Clyde, and we're incredibly proud to be able to open our doors to the public," said Tim Morrison, adding, "For me and my family there is a very personal link knowing that my great grandfather built the Queen's Dock where the Clydeside Distillery now sits."
The copper stills are producing a classic Lowland single malt Scotch whisky using traditional methods, "albeit with a bit of modern technology," Morrison said.
The distillery can host a variety of events, including wedding receptions, corporate functions and dinners, and the Tasting Room can accommodate 40 to 200 guests.
Guided tours last 80 minutes and cost about $20 per adult in groups of up to 20; customized tours of up to six people also are available.