Across the road, where the warehouses once stood, is now waste ground being readied for building. The crumbling walls of an old house still stand here, perhaps once the homely environment for a distillery manager, or perhaps the functional formality of an excise office, but now just a shell to be renovated or demolished. Do we know, or care anymore?
|Wharves and wreck at Bowling|
|Littlemill Place and Erskine Bridge|
All silent now. Where once the fires of kilns and boilers burned bright, fanned by the great winds of industrial change, now the last candles lit in memory flicker and die in the gentle breeze of a whispered ‘ah’, as the cork of an old favourite squeaks out from the neck of a bottle, memory of the contents flooding back to olfactory senses, knowing this can’t last forever.
Where has our great ‘water of life’ gone from this industrial heartland of Scotland? Eight distilleries into Barnard’s list and only one, Auchentoshan, remains in production to this day. A little despair creeps back into my heart. Where in the west of Scotland is the activity, the innovation, the noise of humanity, the support for communities, the wee drappie for four generations of skilled workers, from Coopers to Welders – what have we left to show for all this spirit, damn it!
Yes, there are high volume distilleries in the area - Strathclyde in the city and Loch Lomond in nearby Alexandria, neither there in Barnard’s time and all far larger outputs than even Port Dundas in the 1880s. Both, however, look soulless, producing mainly grain whisky for in-house blends and with no visitor facilities.
I will discuss these, and the more recently closed Dumbarton Distillery, in an upcoming post. For now my Glasgow tour has come to a close and I go on with heavy heart.
I will soon be visiting Campbeltown, once home to the highest concentration of distilleries on the planet, so that should cheer me up a bit, no?