July 3, 2014 – Glasgow’s city council has approved planning permission for work to begin on the city’s first new malt whisky distillery in decades. That clears the way for veteran whisky industry leaders Tim Morrison and his team to start turning the historic pump house along the River Clyde into the first phase of the £10 million ($17.1 million USD) project, a museum and visitors centre. New construction on the site between Glasgow’s Hydro Arena and the Riverside Museum will include the distillery building and a cafe/tasting bar, with work scheduled to be completed by the autumn of 2015.
Tim Morrison is one of the sons of Stanley Morrison, who led Morrison Bowmore’s rebirth in 1964. He also owns the independent bottler A.D. Rattray, and has recruited a number of former Morrison Bowmore colleagues to work on the new venture. In a recent interview, his son Andrew Morrison explained that the site will generate tourist traffic from opening day on.
“A lot of distilleries that are new are opening in places like Lewis or Islay…being in the centre of Glasgow, our neighbor is the Riverside Museum, which has a million visitors a year, so we’re definitely looking to build an experience as well as a distillery,” Morrison said. The visitors centre/museum is being modeled on the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, with plans to focus on the history of Scotch Whisky instead of a single brand. “Most experiences we’ve visited have been so focused on particular brands from those distilleries; we really want to talk about the history of whisky, the relationship to the Clyde, the monks, and really have a compelling reason for people to come to our site, as well as, of course, a working distillery.”
Listen to Mark Gillespie’s interview with Andrew Morrison:
Planning permission had been anticipated earlier this year, but the Morrison team has been working with Glasgow officials on a master plan for the site. “Glasgow’s waterfront is now becoming a contemporary location,” Morrison said. “It used to be shipbuilding and very industrial, and the City Council have decided that everything along there has to be contemporary. The site we’re looking at is half listed building (historic preservation site) and the planners now want contemporary with listed, so it’s going to be a very interesting looking distillery.” The projections call for annual production of 400,000 to 450,000 litres of alcohol annually, with no maturation warehouses to be located on the site.
The Pump House site has a unique place in Glasgow’s history. Tim Morrison’s great-grandfather, John Morrison, originally built the structure in 1877. It served as the main entry point for the Queens Dock, and allowed Customs & Excise officers to monitor shipping traffic along the river. Restoring it to serve as the museum and visitors centre is expected to create 300 temporary construction jobs, while the project is expected to create 25 permanent jobs once the distillery goes into production.
The distillery does not have a web site at this time.