Those of a more mature age will recall the slogan Glasgow’s miles better, which the local tourist board touted during the 1980s. This was accompanied by the prominent presence of Mr Happy and was an attempt to showcase Scotland’s major city in a more positive and modern light.
Glasgow is and was a tough city, but prior to the campaign, it wasn’t somewhere you’d pick out as a destination. When the ’90s arrived, I felt it the slogan was some rave-like advert for an underground scene, albeit it was hugely successful. Nowadays, we have the People make Glasgow and this is very apt if you’re fortunate to visit and explore its delights.
Scotland’s largest city is a different beast to the more tourist-friendly capital of Edinburgh, but frequenting both on a regular basis. I’m not going to pick a side. However, in whisky terms, neither city has been a producer of note for some time now. Both were reduced to harbouring grain plants and as much as I appreciate North British, Port Dundas and Strathclyde. The trio won’t feature as a single malt, or throw their doors open to visitors.
The whisky boom eventually forced this situation to change, but my goodness didn’t it take time? While other areas of Scotland (mostly the Lowlands) played host to numerous new enterprises. The cities were eerily quiet: with Glasgow actually losing Port Dundas.
Edinburgh has always been the tougher nut to crack as land is prized and valued, given its desirable status as an Airbnb favourite and majestic streets. Finally, things changed with the arrival of Holyrood and we also have the Leith distillery to look forward to as well. Glasgow, is more expansive and industrial. The decay of the once mighty industries such as shipbuilding, has created various rejuvenation initiatives. Meaning it now plays host to Clydeside and in theory Clutha: the Douglas Laing £10.7 million venture that seems stuck in red tape. But before all of this, came the Glasgow Distillery Company, or the Glasgow 1770 distillery to be exact, in 2014.
I’ve yet to visit the distillery and this is its official Malt debut. Being as open as always, I did taste their inaugural whisky and I was very disappointed. Overpriced like all inaugural releases (likely to be unopened), it was youthful, lacking character and too much aggressive wood. I just never got around to writing about it, which sometimes happens. I’ll also say the 1770 aspect of the name isn’t needed and there’s an official explanation for the use of the date, but in reality, this distillery is about as old as the tin of pinto beans I’ve had at the back of my cupboard for too long.
All that said and done, let’s move onto the latest arrival in the Glasgow core range. The distillery kindly sent over the 50cl bottle and accompanying branded glassware. I’m thankful for the opportunity and despite the free nature of things, this doesn’t affect our judgement or score.
With the arrival of this triple distillation edition, the trio of core whiskies is now complete, also featuring the single malt and peated expressions. Meaning more experimental and single cask expressions can be pursued. For now, we have this release and we’ve talked about triple distillation in detail, which moves the need to repeat ourselves. A No Age Statement release, this is bottled at 46% strength, features virgin wood and will retail for £49, or in 70cl terms circa £68. A little more than I’d look to pay on paper without trying the contents first. Master of Malt are selling this currently for £48.95.
A word on 50cl, if I may divert for a moment. Generally, we were all alarmed when 50cl bottles started appearing on the market. Since then, it has become more commonplace and recently, we’ve seen Eden Mill offering 20cl and Cardrona bottling 35cl. Whisky is expensive, and at times, there is less to go around, so I’m quite open to other formats. Pricing remains paramount and I do prefer bottle designs that don’t attempt to hide lesser contents. Say what you like about the haphazard Boutique-y, it’s part of their charm and a 50cl bottle that looks exactly what it is. This Glasgow release, like so many others, tries its best to camouflage such origins and does an efficient job.
Glasgow 1770 Triple Distilled Release No.1 – review
On the nose: plenty of robust vanilla, some butterscotch and fresh pinewood. Popcorn, dried reeds, new plastic and a bourbon-like feel with the wood influence. Oily, white chocolate and honeycomb. Adding water, brings a lightness, shaking off the vanilla and wood thrust and unlocking oats and a hint of orange.
In the mouth: creamy, inoffensive and an oozing texture. Plenty of vanilla if that’s your gig? Caramel (yes, strong bourbon-like virgin wood features), fennel, a hint of ginger and almonds. White pepper, apples and a metallic note. The addition of water lessens the texture and overall experience. More buttery oiliness, but it feels like a step backwards.
My expectations weren’t great going into this experience given this is the youthful end of whisky and the entry price. The use of triple distillation and virgin oak all could potentially, on paper, detract from the final result. However, it is well-judged and arguably this is a single malt that could appease bourbon and Irish whiskey drinkers.
If you’ve made it this far into the review and do want to order a bottle, then the folk at the distillery have given us 10 maltreview codes for free postage and packing in the UK. Just a saving of £4.99, but every little helps right now. The decision, as someone once said, is yours.
There is no escaping the price, when you can pick up Scotland’s other traditionally triple distilled whiskies for much less. You can pick up a great chunk of the Auchentoshan range for less than this, with the 12 year old retailing for £34.65 on Master of Malt. And remember that’s a full-sized bottle.
Perhaps the argument would be Auchentoshan is a larger entity with more economies of scale, so we’ll switch to the we’ll do it our own bloody way, in the form of Springbank and its Hazelburn distillate. The 10 year old, when you can find it, will set you back just £38. Again, raising the issue of pricing and if we’re paying a little over the odds for this Glasgow 1770 and the eye candy presentation?
Our thanks to Glasgow 1770 for the opportunity to review this release. And are commission links to Master of Malt included above.