Sunday, 4 November 2012

Drinking at the Pot Still

One of the things which I’ve really enjoyed during our travels so far, is scratching below the surface of cities and discovering it’s icons which are only well known to the local people. Glasgow is full of iconic places which are not famous world wide, but places that the Glaswegian's know and love. In my last post I wrote about the story of the oldest pub in Glasgow, The Scotia.  After visiting this pub, I got put on to another place, which was a “must-visit” during our time here, a place called “The Pot Still”.  Scotland is famous for it’s whiskies, and the Pot still boasts a collection of over 460 whiskies on offer, making it Scotland’s premier whisky bar. 

The premises of the Pot Still has been operating since 1867, but it wasn’t until 1981, when John Waterson took over the existing pub and rebranded it “The Pot Still”. The aim was to create a pub which was heavily focused on whisky and themed around stocking rare hard to find malts.  The bar was an instant hit. It has been known, that businessmen from London, would fly to Glasgow for the day, just so they could drink their favourite whisky, because the Pot Still was the only place they could find it.  Today the bar is owned by whisky enthusiast, Frank Murphy. Frank began working in his Dad’s pub many years ago, and now he and his Dad both run the Pot Still.  I had the pleasure of speaking to Frank’s dad, during my visit. He described his son’s passion and love for all things whisky and how he is now happy to now take a step back and let his boy run the majority of the pub. He also went on to say that Frank is constantly trying and sampling new and different whiskies. They are hoping to have the collection up to 500 before the end of the year. 

So of course a visit to the Pot Still would not be complete with out trying some of the collection. I decided to try one of the bosses recommendations, the Benromach 10 year old. It was recommended because it’s matured in a sherry cask and has a sweet chocolate and fruity sultana flavour which I love so much in some of the Australian fortified wines. This malt also had a spicy after taste which on further investigation, I discover was cinnamon.  It was light in smokey peat flavour too. Many malts can taste to smokey, almost burnt, but this wasn’t. The sweetness of the sherry cask took centre stage and the peat smoke taste lingered in the background. 

I’m definitely guilty of sometimes letting the complex world of cocktails and mixology take over,  causing me to forget about the raw spirits. When you are always trying to push the boundaries and create new tastes and flavours, you sometimes forget that the most satisfying drinks are the ones which are raw and pure.  Sitting at the Pot Still sipping on my whisky and water, it was great to have the chance to talk to people who don’t care about cocktails, they just care about whisky. 


  1. Did you tell Frank's Dad that you had visited the Yamazaki distillery in Japan? That's impressive.

  2. No... i saw yamazaki on their shelf too..... i’m sure the murphy family have visited hundreds of distilleries. I didn’t need to brag. I was just interested in their whisky knowledge.