This new make spirit is the first ever product to be released from the Clydeside distillery in Glasgow. The distillery is located on the banks of the River Clyde about 1.5 miles from the centre of the city and is housed in the old pump house which opened a long dismantled swing bridge in the Queen's Dock for over 90 years. The old pump house was originally built in 1877 and was decommissioned in 1969 when Glasgow's ship building finally ground to a halt. The renovation and conversion began in August 2016 and the first distillate was produced in November 2017. The new make is made using 100% malted barley and will mature to become Clydeside single malt in time. It was first bottled and released in January 2018.
The distillery is owned by the Morrison family, who have a long history in the whisky industry dating back to John Morrison in 1925. He founded a successful whisky brokering business and this evolved in to a distilling empire that later became Morrison Bowmore Distillers. At its peak they owned the Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch distilleries before selling to Beam Suntory. The Clydeside distillery was founded by Tim Morrison, John's great grandson, who joined the business in 1961, and has an annual production capacity of 500,000 litres.
The Clydeside New Make Spirit is bottled at 63.5% ABV, which is the only slightly lower to the strength as it comes off the stills and the actual strength that they fill to cask at. It is only available at the distillery shop and a 20cl bottle will cost £14.95.
For a full report on our visit and tour of the Clydeside distillery - click here.
Our tasting notes
The clear spirit has good legs and beads of it grip the inside of the glass. The nose is powerful but full of fresh and vibrant aromas - think of crisp green apples and boiled peardrop sweets with some candy floss and marshmallow. Underneath is a distinct malty cereal note and hints of vanilla and white pepper.
On the palate this new make spirit has a wonderful viscosity and quickly coats the mouth. It feels vibrant, fresh and clean. Crisp green apple notes lead the way along with some expressive bittersweet cereals. These feel malty and biscuity. Then comes a hit of white pepper and green chilli, followed by a confected sweetness that is reminiscent of cream soda and marshmallow. As saliva mixes with it the spirit becomes creamier and softer with lovely notes of vanilla and poached pear coming through. This is more prominent than suggested on the nose.
With a dash of water the biscuity and vanilla notes come forward more with the spicier and green characteristics dropping back. A further dash accentuates this further and encourages a warming note of clove and an interesting twist of freshly cut mint. It also makes the spirit become slightly cloudy as esters and fatty acids come out of solution.
What's the verdict?
This is a delicious, vibrant and fresh new make spirit that has multiple layers of flavour and structure. We have been lucky to try numerous new makes on distillery visits and this ranks as one of the most memorable that we have sampled. It shows much promise but how will it mature to become single malt whisky? Only time will tell and it will be interesting to see when Clydeside will release their first whisky.
As an aside, we were wondering how people will drink this. Very rarely do we drink new make neat as the ABV is too high and even with water added it is not an easy drink. We have experimented and it works very well over ice (especially once the ice melts a bit) and also with some soda water as a long drink. However, the best was undoubtedly in a Bloody Mary where we replaced the vodka with Clydeside new make and it provided a wonderful peppery kick to the drink. Try it.