SB meets… Mike Hayward, The Glasgow Distillery
The co-founder of The Glasgow Distillery discusses the company’s recent rebrand, the power of storytelling, and the ever-evolving whisky landscape.
Why did The Glasgow Distillery Co rebrand earlier this year?
As a company that produces a variety of spirits, we wanted to create a look and feel that unified them together under The Glasgow Distillery Co umbrella; a distillery brand that truly represented our portfolio of premium spirits.
Our new tagline, ‘stories with spirit’, encapsulates our commitment to spotlighting the best of Glasgow’s past, present and future. Each of our spirits brands across whisky, gin, vodka, and rum tells a different story taken from Glasgow’s rich heritage and culture, and as a city full of great stories, and great storytellers, this new identity celebrates all things Glasgow, which is central to our character and provides inspiration for our independent premium spirits production.
It’s been a decade since you launched The Glasgow Distillery Co. What would you say has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the Scotch whisky industry over the past 10 years?
We are part of that boom of new single malt whisky distilleries, and since we started in 2012, the Lowland region, in particular, has not slowed down. It’s great to see so many new distilleries coming on line each year in and around Glasgow and Edinburgh – many of them now producing and releasing their own whisky.
In such an established industry, it’s interesting to see so many new distilleries cropping up, and each bringing something new to the table; this is really important in driving innovation as each new distillery looks to create their own USP and offer something fresh and interesting to the consumer. With the growth of younger distilleries there has been a refreshing increase in the range of no-age-statement whiskies within the market, truly demonstrating that age alone is no single indicator of quality – but rather that quality casks and well-produced spirit is the key.
How would you describe the company’s growth during this time?
We’ve grown massively since we started in 2012 – releasing 12 core range products over five spirit categories that are available in more than 20 countries around the world, not to mention countless small batch and single cask releases. However, I would still describe us as a young, ambitious and industrious company.
We’re entering a new and exciting growth phase, investing heavily in our production capacity, in warehousing and in our people. This will allow us to bring The Glasgow Distillery’s brands to more people than ever before and I can’t wait to share more about this soon.
Can you tell me about any upcoming launches this year?
Our latest Glasgow 1770 Small Batch Series release will be available in the coming months. It’s always interesting to see how these experimental bottlings are received by consumers and how the unique cask finishes of each release continue to produce intriguing results. I can honestly say that some of the products we are releasing this year are the best we have brought out yet – exceptional single cask releases and small batch finishes that harness quality casks that we use across our three single malt styles: unpeated, peated, and triple-distilled expressions.
We will also soon be releasing new limited edition bottlings of our Banditti Club Rum, demonstrating the same innovation and experimentation that we bring to our single malt releases to our rum.
What innovation are you currently working on at Glasgow Distillery at present?
Spirit innovation will always be at the forefront of our brand. Our philosophy of experimentation and innovation drives forward our approach as we strive to create new and unique releases for consumers to enjoy.
The foundation of our Glasgow 1770 Small Batch Series has always been about pushing the boundaries of flavour innovation in whisky and our finishes with Tokaji, Tequila, Golden Beer and Cognac proved incredibly popular. Our most recent Red Wine and Ruby Port Cask Finish took our experimentation to the next level, marking our first foray into combining two distinct spirit styles with two distinct maturation processes and we are continuing to push these boundaries.
Do you have any ‘milestone goals’ for the next 12-24 months?
Our rebrand in January this year is symbolic of a new era of growth for the distillery, and we have plans to expand on-site over the coming months as demand for our current portfolio of brands in new and existing markets continues to grow, and we continue to develop intriguing new flavour profiles to deliver new experiences to consumers.
A key focus for us this year is growing our presence in the UK market, ensuring that we are working with interesting and engaged trade partners to give more consumers the chance to explore our portfolio of spirits. As well as this, we are looking forward to the continued growth of our brands in key markets across Europe, Asia and the Americas.