Glencairn Crystal has been supplying the drinks industry and consumer markets for more than four decades, and produces what it describes as “the world’s favourite whisky glass”.

Scott Davidson, son of founder Raymond, reflects on how he started engraving crystal at the age of 14, and talks about the company’s achievements and its ambitions for the future.

He highlights the desire of the family-owned business, which employs more than 70 people, to see its famous Glencairn Glass “used across as many of the world’s bars and restaurants as possible”. Glencairn Crystal counts the major drinks companies, as well as top-flight football clubs, among its customers.

Name: Scott Davidson

What is your business called?

I am the new product development director at Glencairn Crystal.

Where is it based?

In East Kilbride, near Glasgow.

What does it produce/do?

For over the last four decades, we have been supplying the drinks industry and consumer markets with unique crystal decanters, glassware and giftware. Over the years, we’ve created bespoke crystal decanters to hold some of the world’s oldest and most sought-after whiskies and spirits.

We’re also the creators of the famous Glencairn Glass for whisky. We currently sell millions of these glasses globally every year, making it the world’s favourite whisky glass.

We also produce uniquely crafted and personalised awards and trophies.

To whom does it sell?

We’ve created and supplied glassware for the majority of leading drinks companies such as Brown-Forman, Diageo and Pernod Ricard as well as sporting organisations including the world famous premier clubs; Liverpool, Celtic and Rangers. Other organisations we’ve worked with include Cunard, Muller, Facebook and Google, plus corporate clients including the Houses of Parliament and Scottish Parliament. Many of these companies have been customers for over 40 years.

What is its turnover?


How many employees?

We have a team of over 70 people.

Why did you take the plunge?

The business was set up by my father, Raymond Davidson, in 1981, and so it wasn’t really a case of taking the plunge as much as to help him in those early days.

When I was growing up it was all hands on deck in the early days of the business and the whole family would help. At the age of 14, I started engraving crystal and bringing the bespoke product element of the company to life.

I became general manager in 1995 and created the joint ventures in the glass decoration facility and retail division within the business to further evolve the bespoke service offering. I swapped with my brother, Paul, in 2002, to focus on new product development, with Paul looking after the whole operation. I am still responsible for business strategy, financial and legal areas of the company.

What were you doing before?

I joined straight from university.

What do you least enjoy?

Chores at home, especially when you know it’s the right thing to do.

What do you consider to be the main successes of the business?

We’ve always been a family-run business and we now have three generations of the Davidson family in the company. Our family values and customer relationships are integral to the way we run our business and are at the core of everything we do.

One of our unique capabilities is in our in-house creative team of designers and product development engineers. We have capability to create everything in-house - from the graphics to the 3D modelling of a bottle, to the promotional brochure and online media. In-house design has been a fundamental part of our business and we probably have a bigger team than many agencies. From concept through to the finished article, we’re what you might call a “one stop shop” service.

The backbone of our business is based on success through our innovations. All of the products and processes are a direct result of our continuous investment. We’re in the unique position of having spent years evolving an unparalleled range of luxury spirit containers from premium glass bottles to lead-free crystal bottles and decanters in all shapes and sizes to suit all market needs.

Our latest innovations from our talented designers and craftspeople are built on learnings from producing some of our most expensive decanter creations. We can now recreate their highly skilled decoration techniques on more affordable premium glass bottles. It has taken almost 15 years to perfect but now this development has really taken off for us. What are your ambitions for the firm?

We’re strongly committed to delivering a long-term sustainability strategy to meet the climate demands of the future. This has so far included a conversion to solar energy to allow the company to generate enough electricity to meet all on-site demand, a 75% reduction in gas usage, conversion to an electric car fleet and a focus on re-use and recycling - all working towards carbon-neutral standards.

We’re confident in the continued success of our Glencairn Glass and its range of products. We have great ambitions to see the Glencairn Glass used across as many of the world’s bars and restaurants as possible, promoting whisky and enhancing the consumer experience.

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What single thing would most help?

A magic wand to satisfy all the opportunities we see.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

Even when things are going well, always have preparations in place for difficult times as you never know when something challenging might catch you unawares. By doing this it gives us the opportunity to plan for change, rather than be forced into it.

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What was your best moment?

Winning the Queens Award for Innovation in 2006. It was a great honour and marked the pivotal change in pace and direction for our business.

Since then, Glencairn Crystal has won Whisky Advocate Industry Leader of the Year in the US in 2011 and The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2012 and 2017. We were also one of seven Scottish companies to join ELITE in 2019 (the London Stock Exchange Group's programme for fast-growing companies), and last year we were one of the top 20 shortlisted Scottish companies recognised for exporting excellence to feature in the Scottish Export Index (formerly the Scottish Export Awards).

On a personal note, it was a great privilege to be chosen to join the world-renowned Keepers of the Quaich Society in 2018, and last year I was also admitted as a Liveryman to The Worshipful Company of Distillers as well as becoming a Freeman of the City of London.

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What was your worst moment?

Waking up to the consequences of working with banks that didn’t believe your dream!

How do you relax?

My wife, Aileen, and I like messing about with old cars, listening to music and going to gigs. I also enjoy going for an early morning run when the traffic is quiet – it’s great to clear your head and get some fresh air.

What phrase or quotation has inspired you the most?

“Manners cost nothing and last a lifetime” - it amazes me how rude people can still be these days.

What is the best book you have ever read? Why is it the best?

I could never choose. My last great book was The Old Man and the Sea. A simple story of perseverance and contentment in your own life.

What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

I have always enjoyed my trips to Italy, the US and France. I love Manhattan for the vibrant, gritty city it is, like Glasgow. Siena for the fabulous walled city and casual atmosphere, and the Three Valleys for the excellent all-round skiing experience.