There were no Christmas elves to be found during the Herald's exclusive tour of the Glasgow Distillery Company’s HQ in Hillington last week. 

Instead, it was a group of hard hat and high-vis-wearing team members who were busy at work to ensure that each holiday order is fulfilled in time for the big day. 

Looking back to their first whisky release in 2018, co-founder Mike Hayward said: “It was a really pivotal moment for us, being able to release a single malt that had been made in Glasgow and proudly said so on the label. 

“After so many years, it was a humbling experience to bring that back to the city.” 

The Herald: Pictured: Sebastian Bunford-Jones at the Glasgow DistilleryPictured: Sebastian Bunford-Jones at the Glasgow Distillery (Image: supplied)The Glasgow Distillery was first established in 2012 after Mr Hayward and co-founder Liam Hughes hatched a plan to open the city’s first independent single malt distillery in almost a century. 

Global marketing manager Sebastian Bunford-Jones said: “We take the name for our single malts from the original Glasgow Distillery Company which was founded in the year 1770 and was one of the biggest in Scotland

“They used to make the same three styles of whisky that we do which is triple distilled, peated and unpeated. 

“Glasgow was a real hub for whisky making up until that point, but when they closed in 1902 there were no newly founded distilleries until we were established.” 

Anyone not familiar with the firm’s single malts might recognise a few other big names from a portfolio that includes Makar gin, Banditti Rum, G52 Botanical Vodka and the Malt Riot Blended Malt.

Although whisky was always the end goal, these spirits are arguably just as much a part of Glasow Distillery’s identity as the 1770 range. 

Mr Hayward said: “We wanted to create a range of products that all had Glasgow at the heart of them. 

“While the whisky is there as a sort of beacon leading the way, we have a diverse range that shows the kind of innovation we want to bring to customers. 

“It’s very important to us that we never just put something in a bottle and relax. 

“The real fun of it is creating different experiences for people, rather than saying that we are going to make one product, with one type of cask and that’s all you’re ever going to get.” 

The Herald:

After close to a decade, the team are fast running out of space at their original warehouse and has just acquired the neighbouring unit to store their casks on location. 

It’s very much a working site, with the main floor largely devoted to whisky production, except for a single still, named after Mr Hayward’s great-grandmother, Annie, that is currently used for botanical spirits. 

The addition of offices now means that all of the distillery’s 17 full-time staff members are based within the warehouse, allowing for a deeper understanding of the effort that goes into every batch of spirit. 

Asked if he would consider conducting public tours, Mr Hayward said: “I think it’s important, as we progress the brand, for people to have the chance to understand us a little better. 

“Seeing where the magic happens is such a fantastic experience. 

“But, if we had gone down the visitor centre route from the start, it could have delayed us in production.” 

 “Our focus is first and foremost on the long-term business and creating a really good quality product which means spending our money on high-end equipment and casks," Mr Bunford-Jones agreed.

“The rest will come.” 

As talk turns to plans for expansion, it’s hard to imagine many similarities between the slick operation and global ambitions of the Glasgow Distillery and their predecessors over a century ago. 

The Herald:

“It’s funny," Mr Hayward said,  "when we talk about the name of the single malt brand being 1770 being a nod to the past, that’s probably the only way in which we’re looking backwards. 

“We’re definitely not your traditional distillery. 

“We’re much more forward-thinking in our approach to the market today and aware of what people want, and being able to produce in a way that will give them different options. 

“They’re looking at us to give them something new to try and that’s a challenge we enjoy rising to.” 

The Glasgow Distillery is currently running a festive pop-up shop at the Princes Square Shopping Centre on Buchanan Street, Glasgow. 

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