Rosemary's Blog

A whisky club for women at Glasgow's famous The Pot Still pub

Meet Geraldine, a dynamic young lady with a finely honed palette and great ideas about women and whisky. Her family, the Murphys, are breathing new life into the much lauded pub at the heart of Glasgow’s whisky culture - and indeed, Geraldine is part of the reason why they bought the pub in the first place.

Geraldine began working casually at The Pot Still in 2003. Along with various other young relatives she has worked there on and off ever since and when the opportunity to buy the pub came up The Murphy family, with years in the on-trade, thought owning a part of Glasgow’s whisky heritage was too good an opportunity to miss. It has been in their safe and innovative hands now for 5 years.

The clientele at The Pot Still is much as you would expect: predictable but valued regulars and tourists in their droves. Geraldine wanted to encourage whisky loving women to make the pub a place where they could feel at home and explore the pleasure of their favourite drink. In 2012 she started The Pot Still’s Whisky Girls, believed to be the first (and maybe the only) whisky club for women in the UK. Monthly meetings are held in the pub and attract a really mixed age group. From whisky teas to tastings from specific distilleries, Geraldine is really proud that the club’s inaugural meeting was an Auchentoshan tasting led by their Master Blender Rachel Barrie. “It was a fabulous evening! It was a real privilege to have Rachel here and I really loved the Auchentoshan cream liqueur. I was amazed by that as I usually find whisky creams far too sweet” enthused Geraldine. Of course, when the men in the bar see what fun the Girls are having there is a certain amount of ‘we want to join in too’ but it is like book clubs: they can start their own!

Not content with what she has achieved at The Pot Still Geraldine is now well down the road to hosting what she hopes will be both an informative and a celebratory day for women in whisky from all parts of the globe. It is to be held in Glasgow on Sunday 8th March 2015, the UN designated International Women’s Day. It’s in my diary! Full details will be on https://www.facebook.com/ThePotStillGlasgow

Amid great conversation it was my pleasure to introduce Geraldine to The One, the blended whisky from The Lakes Distillery made from malts from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. It was a first taste for her, countered with a distillery special from Glengoyne, The Teapot Dram, the whisky that she chose to introduce me to from The Pot Still’s huge selection of 300+ bottles.

The Teapot Dram, as a Distillery Special, does not fall within my current review criteria for whiskies on MoonShine: it is not widely available and it costs over £50! But Geraldine treated me to a taste - and a treat it was - and so… well, rules are for bending!

As a food writer with a great interest in tea, the name of this expression caught my imagination immediately, as did the colour. Tea pots? Whisky? What’s going on here? The story is that a teapot of whisky was kept in the distillery canteen and a dram was poured from it for the workers three times a day. Happy times - of course ended by a health and safety executive in some guise or another. We smile at this indeed, but it does remind me of so many South African workers kept in a malleable state of compliance and reliance by frequent daily handouts of weak beer. I am sure, however, that nothing but good cheer was achieved by the dramming at Glengoyne!

The whisky is rich in colour, like a well-brewed Assam. This is all about Oloroso, the deeply flavoured, rich sherry whose barrels are used, first fill, for both the initial creation of the spirit and then for its maturation. A spirit put into a barrel to be used for a whisky for the first time will get far more of the flavour and colour from the wood than a second or third fill. In the Teapot Dram it really shows!

My first taste was all about raisins and richness - but then that is to be expected from the Oloroso casking. But then pepper took over, preventing the whisky from being too sweet as it could also have been about soft brown or muscavado sugar. This was hot, black pepper and white: spicy and exciting, my mouth was watering: cake was needed! A rock bun would do the trick! But then, with just a few drops of water added, the whisky was tamed. It had gone from a chipped china or an enamel mug brew to one of elegance and refinement. It was now a fine china mug, or even a cup and saucer whisky. The spice was tamed, knocked right back off the tip of the tongue and the buttery softness and elegance was revealed with a slightly sugary finish. At 59.4%abv, cask strength the Teapot Dram is all about occasion. A treat, in small quantities, very occasionally, like afternoon tea with all the trimmings and the best or vintage-trouvé china out for use, the Teapot dram is in my Whisky Wardrobe for Sunday afternoons in front of the fire. Perfect for waiting for Downton Abbey, with a dram and a slice of fruit cake!

Glengoyne Distillery Teapot Dram. Available from the distillery only, on the A81 about 15 miles north of Glasgow. About £75 for 70cl.