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Issue 49 - Let Glasgow flourish

Whisky Magazine Issue 49
July 2005


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Let Glasgow flourish

Glasgow has a long association with whisky. Robin Laing tells its story

In September thousands of people will congregate in George Square for Glasgow's second Whisky Live event. Glaswegians think of their city as a no-nonsense sort of place, where whisky is the natural drink – quite different from the pretentious sherry drinkers of Edinburgh. But what are the facts? What is Glasgow's whisky pedigree?

They say Saint Mungo founded Glasgow in the sixth century but from the 17th century it experienced rapid development as a city of commerce. Trading opportunities with the new world favoured ports on the west of Britain and the Clyde had one of the best anchorages in Europe.

Glasgow became the ‘Merchant City' and fortunes were made in cotton, tobacco and shipbuilding.

Eventually Glasgow overtook Edinburgh in size becoming the ‘second city of the Empire.' In 1725, just after the Union of Parliaments, the London Government increased the malt tax in Scotland. Angry citizens assembled in Glasgow to prevent the revenue officers from exercising this duty and the mob gutted the mansion of Daniel Campbell of Shawfield, an MP who had supported the tax.

Troops were called and in the following frenzy nine citizens were shot dead and 17 were wounded.

Ironically, Campbell used his compensation from the city to buy the Island of Islay. His grandson later established the town of Bowmore.

Early in the 17th century most whisky was made domestically, unlicensed and unregulated as it had been for generations. In 1781 private distilling was outlawed and legal...

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