Mixing distilling tradition with innovation – The Glasgow Distillery Co

 One of the biggest and most enjoyable parts of the job for The Scottish Gin Society team is visiting gin distilleries around Scotland – meeting the distillers, owners and teams behind the brands and discussing ways we can work together to help promote their products and the Scottish Gin category as a whole.

This week, we travelled to The Glasgow Distillery and had the opportunity to meet with Co-Founder and CEO Liam Hughes, and members of his team. It was a rare and beautiful Scottish summer day when we arrived at the distillery and were warmly greeted by Marketing Executives Sebastian and Eleanor for a tour. 

Founded in 2014, The Glasgow Distillery Company takes its name from one of Glasgow’s original distilleries. We learned that, at one time, Glasgow was home to hundreds of distilleries until the Depression and Prohibition forced them to close. 

Bringing the tradition back to life, The Glasgow Distillery is the first Single Malt Whisky Distillery in Glasgow in 110 years. Continuing to push new boundaries, The Glasgow Distillery is home to a portfolio of spirits brands, including the range of Makar Original Dry Gin expressions, 1770 Glasgow Single Malt Scotch Whisky and G52 Urban Craft Vodka. You might think that producing a range of multi-award-winning craft gins would be enough for one distillery, but the culture of innovation and drive at The Glasgow Distillery means they’ve also found the time to produce a range of limited edition spirits. Each product in their Single Batch Series demonstrates the passion for quality that underlines all their products.

Walking around the surprisingly compact space, there is an unmistakable buzz.  We are introduced to the bespoke copper stills, Annie, Mhairi and Tara – named after family members of the three founders. Those founders are proud to have invested in the very best distilling equipment and sourced the finest ingredients for the variety of handcrafted spirits. Their head distiller travels as far afield as Kentucky to expertly source the finest casks.

The distillery is an awesome place to visit, but for us, the thing that really sets this team apart is the innovative company ethos that becomes apparent as soon as you enter through the doors. For a start, there’s the staff.  On the distillery floor, a throng of twenty-somethings happily go about their business.  We asked Sebastian about this and he confirmed that their oldest member of distilling staff is their head distiller and he is just 30! 

So what attracts so much young distilling talent to The Glasgow Distillery?  Sebastian explains that the founders believe in encouraging a strong culture of innovation amongst the staff.  Ideas are listened to and often tried out.  Experiments are finely honed over time to produce the wonderful products we are all familiar with.

“Within the distillery, there is a genuine passion and drive to create the best spirits we can, everyone that works here buys into the Distillery’s values of innovation, creativity and quality; and this comes from the top down. The distillers here are always experimenting with new ideas and new approaches to creating products, and that is replicated in the way we approach all other aspects of our business from the marketing to the sales team and logistics. It’s a very open and creatively rewarding environment in which to work.”

The passion of the staff is evident in the atmosphere, but we’re not just struck by the youth here, it’s easy to see that there is a high female representation

within the distilling team.  Something, we’re told, that isn’t a deliberate strategy, more a happy side-effect of the dynamic and progressive outlook of the distillery.

There is pride in the high quality of the spirits produced here, made even greater by the historic links of distilling to the city of Glasgow.  It isn’t surprising that provenance plays a key part in the distillery story, one of the founders, Liam Hughes is also Deputy Chairman of The Scottish Craft Distillers Association,  he says:

“Provenance and authenticity is really important to us and is clearly demonstrated when you visit the distillery. All of our products are produced here, by us and under our supervision with nothing leaving here until it meets the high-quality standards we have.

Makar Gin is the first gin from Glasgow, and 1770 Glasgow Single Malt is helping reignite the single malt whisky industry in the city once again so it’s a really exciting time, and we’re proud to be part of it.”

While big plans are afoot to expand the distillery to include the visitor centre, shop and its own cooperage, we love the real and authentic feel of the place – it fits in nicely with all we have learned about the company culture. You can still visit the distillery until the centre is opened, by joining tours run out of the Tenant’s Training Academy.

Talking of big plans, it’ll come as no surprise that the team at The Glasgow Distillery have plenty.  The Scottish Gin Society is proud to be working with them on just a few of these and we look forward to bringing you more news in the near future.

Find out more about The Glasgow Distillery by visiting their website.

Join the Scottish Gin Society

It costs nothing to share your appreciation for Scottish gins. Sign-up here for the Society's round-up of tastings and events.
By the way, we won’t share your data with any third party organisations.