Monday, December 28, 2015

Great Places To Drink Whisky - The Pot Still, Glasgow

The Pot Still is a pub and whisky bar in the centre of Glasgow.  It is located on Hope Street, a steep road that climbs north and away from Central Station.  The building where The Pot Still is located was built in 1835 and was originally a wine and spirits merchant.  It transferred to become a public house in 1870 and was run by generations of the same family, the McCalls, until 1971 when it was sold to Tennent Caledonian Breweries.  In 1981, it was taken over by John Waterson, who renovated the pub and increased the range of whiskies over time.  He changed the name from McCall's Bar to The Pot Still.

The current owners are father and son duo Brian and Frank Murphy, who took control of the ownership in November 2011.  Under their stewardship the bar has again thrived and has once more become a must visit venue for whisky fans from across the globe.  The range of whiskies, which are mostly Scotch but also includes interesting offerings from around the world, is extensive and numbers over 300.  This selection is complimented by a collection of Scottish, UK and world craft beers with  some on tap but most in bottles from the fridge.  All of this is housed within homely and traditional pub decor.

Amongst this selection are a number of single cask single malt bottlings that have been selected by Brian and Frank exclusively for The Pot Still.  The whisky collection is a real treasure trove that mixes accessible and everyday whiskies with those that are rare, limited or discontinued.  There is also a Malt of the Month on offer, priced at £2.99 a dram, and was Old Pulteney 12 years old on our visit.   At that price it seemed rude not to partake of one as our opening whisky of the evening.

Food is also on offer and falls in to the 'basic Scottish fare' category, including a ham pie that seemed to attract much interest from the clientele and a haggis Scotch egg.  We had already eaten on this occasion, so they will have to wait until our next visit.

Amidst the treasures at The Pot Still were many whiskies that we have yet to try, but we decided on a couple that we had never even heard of - a Burnside 21 years old and a Westport 15 years old.  Both are blended malts - Burnside is Balvenie teaspooned with Glenfiddich and Westport is Glenmorangie teaspooned with Glen Moray.  The term 'teaspooning' refers to the practice of adding a tiny amount of one single malt to another.  Producers do this so that the whisky cannot legally be named as such by independent bottlers.  In this case, the whiskies cannot be named Balvenie or Glenmorangie single malt as they have another whisky added and are given a different name.

Both whiskies were single cask bottlings by independent companies that were bottled at the natural cask strength - the Burnside at 55.8% ABV and the Westport at 52.3% ABV.  Both were around £10 for a double measure, which may seem high but we did not mind paying to try something that we had never seen before and was that rare.

The Burnside had a distinct maltiness with plenty of wood spices and a lovely background earthy quality.  This was backed up by a delicious mouth coating sweetness most reminiscent of honey and golden syrup.  The Westport had a lovely mix of dried fruits (especially sultanas), honey and vanilla with supporting notes of cinnamon, orange zest and bittersweet cereals.  Both were highly enjoyable and took a little water well. 

We also had the pleasure of meeting Brian and Frank during our visit and thank them both for the time taken to speak with us.  It was the icing on the cake of the excellent time experienced at The Pot Still.  The bar is a 'must visit' for any whisky fan that visits Glasgow and we hope that it is not too long before we are back there.

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