Tim Morrison, formerly of Morrison Bowmore Distillers and owner of independent bottler AD Rattray, set up Morrison Glasgow Distillers (formerly Stanmorr) in 2012 with a vision to revive distilling in Glasgow. Morrison runs AD Rattray as an entirely separate entity.
The board is led by Tim Morrison as chairman and his son Andrew Morrison, who serves as commercial director. Independent whisky consultant Glen Moore, who also once worked with Bowmore as a stillman, mashman and head of marketing, serves as managing director.
The company is currently overseeing the construction of Clydeside distillery on the banks of the river Clyde in Glasgow.
Morrison Glasgow Distillers started life in 2012 as Stanmorr Ltd, a company set up to oversee the building of a new distillery in Glasgow, one that would ‘celebrate the role whisky has played in shaping both Glasgow’s and Scotland’s heritage’.
The brainchild of Tim Morrison, the distillery was to be built within the historic Pump House, at the mouth of Glasgow’s Queen’s Dock.
Planning permission for the site was granted in early 2014, but complications surrounding the foundations of the plot – the dock had been in-filled in 1977 – forced the company to orientate the distillery. This meant submitting a new proposal to Glasgow Council for planning approval.
By 2015 the company had changed its name to The Glasgow Distilling Company, to reflect its intentions to revive whisky production in the city. However, just the year previously, the confusingly named Glasgow Distillery Company beat Morrison and co. to open the first new malt distillery in Glasgow for over 100 years, with the Glasgow distillery in Hillington.
On 1 August 2016, now with full planning permission for its newly positioned distillery – which is now named Clydeside – and a more unambiguous company name of Morrison Glasgow Distillers, the group broke ground at the Pump House.
Clydeside distillery is expected to begin distilling operations in autumn 2017.
One of the first malt distilleries to be built in Glasgow for 40 years, Clydeside intends to eschew its Lowland base and create a malt whisky that reflects the city’s shipping heritage. Owner Morrison Glasgow Distillers has worked closely with distilling consultant Dr. Jim Swan to design a ‘light but fruity spirit’ which is less grassy and malty than other Lowland malts, instead veering toward a spicier Speyside style to reflect Glasgow’s past in bringing tobacco and spices to the UK.
Glasgow was once a major whisky distilling and bottling hub of Scotland, with around 40 companies operating out of the city in 1963. But by the 21st century they had been reduced to just a handful. The whisky contingent dwindled so much that Glasgow distillery, which began operation in 2014, was the city’s first malt plant to open in 39 years. A small operation, named Kinclaith, had operated within the walls of Strathclyde grain plant on the banks of the Clyde from 1957-75, but it too flew solo as Glasgow's only malt whisky representative.
Around the same time as Glasgow distillery’s conception, Tim Morrison, owner of AD Rattray and formerly of Morrison Bowmore Distillers, conceived an idea for a malt distillery on the banks of the Clyde.
The old Pump House, built in 1877 by Morrison’s great grandfather – John Morrison of builders Morrison and Mason, which also built the historic Queen’s Dock – was originally designed to provide hydraulic power to raise and lower the bridge servicing the commercial dock. By the 1970s shipping traffic had declined, and the dock was filled in using rubble from the demolition of St Enoch Station. The Pump House, now redundant, spent the next few decades as an Indian restaurant, Italian restaurant, a contractor’s office, and a visitors’ centre for the Tall Ship attraction at Glasgow Harbour.
In 2011, Morrison Glasgow Distillers (MGD), led by Tim Morrison as chairman, his son Andrew as commercial director and Glen Moore at managing director, purchased the site and began a long process of seeing its conversion into a malt whisky distillery.
Originally the plant was to be called Glasgow distillery, but excavation complications arising from the infilling of the Queen’s Dock halted construction work, allowing the Glasgow Distillery Company to open its own Glasgow distillery in Hillington.
Work finally began on Clydeside distillery, which took its new name from the riverbank on which it sits, on 1 August 2016.
The first distillation at Clydeside occured on 6 November 2017, with the visitor centre opening on 23 November.