Glaschu Spirits Co

The Marvel of Engineering Whisky

When you look up engineering in the Oxford Dictionary the second definition given reads as follows: “The action of working artfully, to bring something about.” To me this seems like an excellent description of how the world’s greatest whiskies are created. By distilleries going back to their artisanal roots and artfully creating a whisky’s fit to be the nectar of the gods. To bring about an experience like none other. Combining a passion for engineering with a fond love for whisky sit at the heart of the Glaschu Spirits Co, and thus I found myself intrigued enough for an interview with its founders, to discover their recipe to success.

Old friends

Founders Paul and Julian met each other during college and bonded over shared interests. Both studying aircraft engineering and filling their spare time with flying themselves, they had plenty of ground (pun intended) to bond over already. But there was one more shared interest that eventually made them start a business together. Their shared love for a good dram.

After college Paul and Julian went to the same university and once their education was complete, they found employment at the same company: Collins Aerospace. But it was already during their time at college that the love for whisky started. Paul was working at a whiskyshop at the time and by sharing his knowledge (and more than a few drams) with his friend, Julian caught the whiskybug as well.

DamGoodDrams

In their own whisky journey, it didn’t take Paul and Julian long before they found themselves steering more towards independent bottlings. When you know that the hobby in their twenties was recreational flying, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the boys hold a preference for exploring the unconventional. And that’s exactly what independent bottlers offered them in the world of whisky, countless of new and exciting flavours to discover.

Their adventurous approach to whisky enjoyment was something that ignited such a passion, that by 2021 they decided that they wanted to help more people explore whisky with the same approach. To do so, they created a shop with whiskies that offers a hand-picked collection of drams, exclusively from independent bottlers and distilleries. A shop where every bottle has its own unique story to tell: DamGoodDrams was born.

The Spirit of Glaschu

As passionate as these two are about whisky, it’s not hard to imagine that they wanted to take their whisky enterprises one (or several) steps further. When you hear their story, it’s plain to see their ultimate goal. Engineering their very own whisky. But starting a distillery is by no means an easy thing to do, it takes years of planning and millions in investments. But what about creating your very own independent label? Getting to choose which cask might bring out an exciting new flavour profile? Something that can still surprise whisky lovers all around… That sounds like something right up their alley, right?

Well, you’re not wrong. As that is exactly what they did. Albeit perhaps a bit later than originally planned. They had a couple of exciting casks lined-up for us already (how about an IPA finished Deanston, that they were going to call “The Boilermaker”?). But sadly enough, they had to sell their first casks to keep investing in stock for DamGoodDrams. Though there won’t be too many tears welling up in their eyes thinking back on it though, because selling the casks was to further the shops success. And a bit further down the line the first bottling came to be after all. A Blair Athol finished in an ex-Jamacian Rum Barrel. An adventurous spirit, that set a promising tone for the brand.

Glaschu Spirits Co.

The Spirit of Glaschu didn’t get to live a long life though, as the name unfortunately had to be changed. Their independent bottling company was renamed Glaschu Spirits Co. but the branding and style stayed the same. Inspired by the liquid in the bottle they paired their passion for the marvels of engineering with a couple of easter eggs on every label. A playfull and passionate approach to whisky that I for one have grown very fond of.

Glaschu is scots Gaelic for Glasgow and even though “Spirit” is no longer in the name. In the sense of Paul and Julian’s passion – and the fact that there’s literal spirit inside the bottle – it’s still abundantly there for each and every whisky they bottle. From the liquid to the labels, and the stories behind each dram. The passion for their city, their country, and their spirit shines through in everything they do.

Engineering a label

Another passion that will always shine through in their work is the one for engineering. They may have moved towards whisky for their careers, but engineering will always play its part. For the educated eye this will be clear as soon as you see their labels, with each label featuring another wonder of engineering from Scotland’s rich past. For those of you who know less about engineering -and I will freely admit to being one of them – let me give you a couple of examples:

The label for their first release was based on an Anchor Line poster, that would leave from the Clyde to travel across the world. In the background (behind the ship) you’ll be able to see a crane that sits on the river Clyde, which represents industrial Glasgow. Their Aultmore bottling (finished in Madeira Casks) features the “Cloud of Iona”, a seaplane that used to fly between Glasgow and Belfast. On that label, you’ll see that the plane has landed at the sunny shores of Madeira. (Remember those easter eggs I told you about?)

Easter eggs

Yes, I’ve mentioned the easter eggs twice now. So, let me tell you a bit more about them. Because who doesn’t love a bit of an easter egg hunt? There are two types of easter eggs that you can find on the labels of Glaschu. The ones that refer to the casks it was aged or finished in, or (in the case of unnamed distilleries) the distillery it came from.

When it comes to the cask easter-eggs, I’ve already told you about the Aultmore in Madeira casks (this is a must try whisky by the way, an absolute stunner!). But have a look as well at the 7-year-old Tullibardine aged exclusively in ex-Bordeaux casks. Where you can see the vineyards of Saint Emillion in the background. The exact grounds the cask came from. When it comes to the distilleries, the easter eggs come more in the form of hints. The 11-year-old Glengoyne from this season’s Explorers Pack features the Flying Scotsman train, set on the tracks where you’d find the West Highland Way nowadays. A famous hiking trial that takes you right past the distillery. There are at least two more hints hidden in the background though, can you find them?

The Havelock Series

One exception to their rule (of putting the marvels of engineering on their labels), is the Havelock series. Which features Havelock Street in Glasgow, the very same street that Julian currently lives on. The label itself doesn’t refer to Julian however, but to dear friends of his who procure casks of their own and bottle them through the Glaschu Spirits Co. Glaschu wouldn’t be Glaschu though if Julian and Paul didn’t hide an easter-egg in the label there as well. On the label you’ll see Havelock Street and in one window you’ll see that there’s a light on. That would be the house of the original cask owners.

The first release in the Havelock series is an Ardlair finished in an ex-Bordeaux cask. From the Saint Emillion vineyards to be precise. Rings a bell? Yes, the same type of cask used for their Tullibardine release. But instead of a full maturation this one has only been finished in the wine casks. The spirit of Ardlair and Tullibardine might have a similar profile, but despite that the two vary enormously in flavour profile. Which makes this a fun experiment to try both whiskies side-by-side to discover the difference between a finish and a full maturation!

Looking ahead

Usually when I ask the people I interview if there’s any future release that I might share on my blog, I halve expect them to say no already (the industry can be a bit secretive sometimes). Which made the fact that Paul and Julian were so willing to share future releases with me all the more a pleasant surprise. I can already tell you that there will be two Glenglassaugh releases coming up, of which one will be peated and the other unpeated. (Talk about another fun side-by-side comparison). But also, an unnamed Laphroaig in the Havelock series. Their first release that won’t get a funky maturation or finish, but one that will simply be aged in ex-bourbon. Because (in their words) this particular whisky is already magical enough as is.

Ofcourse, I also asked them about their dreams for the future. What would be their dream cask to bottle someday? To that question I got a unanimous answer… Though both Julian and Paul would love to bottle a “named” Glengoyne someday (seeing as Julian grew up right around the corner from the distillery) the ultimate dream would be to bottle a DamGoodDrams Distillery cask through the Glaschu Spirits Co. Because yes, the ultimate dream for both is to one day own a distillery of their own. And if they will run it with the same passion as they run DamGoodDrams and the Glaschu Spirits Co.? Then I, for one, can’t wait to try the spirits that will flow from there!

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