The Scots word for whisky, uisge beatha – meaning ‘water of life’ – is no overstatement. Luckily for us, some of the best modern and classic distilleries are located along the famous River Clyde, and right on the doorstep of Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow. So next time you’re in the neighbourhood and looking to slake your thirst, make sure to check out these whisky distilleries and bars for a fine dram and a great time.
Located right on the banks of the River Clyde, the Auchentoshan Distillery has been creating whisky inspired by the spirit of Glasgow itself since 1823 – traditional, progressive and ‘aggressively welcoming.’ Priding itself on being ‘hard to say, harder to make, easy to drink,’ their triple-distilled concoctions are indeed a marvel. Take their signature golden-honeyed 12 Year Old, which runs smooth and sweet before finishing on a delicious note of ginger. Or try their award-winning Three Wood, which is matured in bourbon and sherry casks for a rich, complex mix of fruit and coffee.
Further north towards the Trossachs is Glengoyne. With its verdant hills and classic white-washed buildings, Glengoyne is often hailed as being one of the most beautiful whisky distilleries in the UK. The rich sultana and spice of their 21 Year Old nabbed the Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2014 and the top prize at the Global Luxury Masters in 2017. And if that wasn’t enough, Glengoyne has also won a slew of awards for their environmentally-friendly and sustainable business practices, meaning you can drink good and be good as well.
The latest – but by no means least! – addition to the whisky scene is Clydeside Distillery, situated right on Glasgow’s famed dockside. Completely family-run and using traditional distilling techniques, the artisans here are keen to pay homage to the key role that Glasgow and the River Clyde has played in the Scottish whisky trade, and have brought production back to the area for the first time in a century. The first casks have been filled, and though guests will have to wait another three years for a taste when the whisky has fully matured, there’s an excellent visitors centre and an extensive specialist whisky shop on site to tide you over until then.
With over 700 whiskies to choose from, The Pot Still is truly a sight to behold. A family affair, this pub is located just off Hope Street in the heart of Glasgow. All their staff are expertly trained in the whisky trade, and can make tailored recommendations for those overwhelmed by choice. Or if you’re looking to refine and develop your palate, they also host whisky tastings throughout the year. Be sure to pair your dram with one of their hearty homemade pies for the true Scotch experience.
On the other side of the bustling M8 is the Ben Nevis Bar, located on bustling Argyle Street. Contemporary in its flavours and design, the Ben Nevis is also proud of its deep Scottish roots, holding both regular and spontaneous live folk music sessions. Their whisky selection is skilfully curated, and their rotating ‘Malt of the Month’ features both classics and surprising twists that will keep you on your toes.
Past the Kelvingrove, but well worth the trek, is The Lismore. A staunchly old school pub on the fashionably bohemian corner of Byres Road and Partick, its exposed stone walls, dark wood panelling and stained glass create a warm and intimate feel to the place, as does their excellent selection of single malts. Swing by for a hauf an’ a hauf (a half-pint of beer and ‘half gill’ of whisky, to be drunk simultaneously – a traditional Scottish delicacy) and check out the urinals in the men’s bathroom if you can, which boast an…unorthodox tribute to the men behind the notorious Highland Clearances in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.