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Finding a glass of whisky in Glasgow is no great difficulty. The proud, rambunctious city is full of quality pubs, while famous distilleries like Auchentoshan and Glengoyne are only a short trip from town. There are even a few whisky-makers in town these day, too, in the shape of the Glasgow Distillery Company and the soon-to-open Clydeside Distillery.
“Glasgow has a rich history as a whisky city,” says The Pot Still’s Frank Murphy
Nowhere is Glasgow’s whisky tradition more evident than in the neighbourhood around Hotel Indigo Glasgow. Some of the city’s best whisky shops, such as Robert Graham and The Good Spirits Co, can be found nearby, and a number of distilleries have their offices there as well. Opposite the hotel there is a former distillery, now being redeveloped as ‘The Still’. The jewel in the neighbourhood’s crown, though, is The Pot Still, a pub that can be found a short walk up Hope Street.
Top whisky tips from The Pot Still’s team
The Pot Still‘s credentials are immediately obvious upon entering. On the dark wooden shelves behind the bar are stacked 750 different whiskies, by some distance the widest selection in the city. It’s hard to choose, but landlord Frank Murphy can help. Fancy something light, approachable and local? Try Auchentoshan. “It’s perfect for people who say, ‘Oh I don’t really like whisky but I’d like to try something,'” says Murphy.
Then there’s Murphy’s favourite: Benromach 10-year-old. “It’s a real Goldilocks whisky [not too smoky, not too fruity, etc]. If someone asks I’ll start the conversation with that.”
Two more great Glasgow whisky bars: The Bon Accord & The Ben Nevis
The Pot Still might be Glasgow’s finest whisky bar, but it’s not the only one. Two other excellent whisky-focused pubs are within walking distance of The Pot Still. Ten minutes to the west is The Bon Accord, where owner Paul McDonagh stocks more than 400 whiskies. A favourite of his is the Old Pulteney 23-year-old sherry cask, a full-bodied, dried-fruit and spice-laden dram.
A little further on is a third great whisky pub: The Ben Nevis. Situated amidst a plethora of gastropubs and coffee shops in the heart of the increasingly fashionable Finnieston neighbourhood, The Ben Nevis is famous for live Gaelic music and a wide range of whiskies, including the sweet, fruity Arran 14-year-old.
It’s a popular crawl, according to Murphy. “We recommend people go to the Bon,” he says. “Paul and his family have invested in a lot of interesting bottles. There’s so much whisky around now that you could drink here for a week and still go up there and find new stuff. You could quite easily drink around all the whisky bars in Glasgow and not drink the same dram twice.”
Whisky’s revival through the passion of custodians
Murphy takes his role as custodian of The Pot Still seriously. Pubs have been a part of his life since he was five: father Brian ran a pub and Frank, 40, worked under former owner Ken Storrie before taking over himself. The Pot Still itself has been a whisky destination since 1981, when pub entrepreneur John Waterson took over
“Glasgow has a rich history as a whisky city,” Murphy says. “That’s one of the reasons why we make sure our customers the best experience they can. The staff are all highly-trained; we get everyone to do an advanced whisky course. We love to pass on knowledge: there are wee nuggets you can use, things that hook people in.”
Interest in whisky is growing. “There’s a customer who drinks cider, and gradually he’s been trying more and more whisky,” says Murphy. “His palate has changed dramatically: he used to like really smoky ones, and now he prefers something smooth. He’s [gotten] into it just sitting at the bar and listening to us.” Another reason why this part of Glasgow is the perfect place for anyone to start their whisky education.