For Scots, whisky is much more than a drink. Throughout its life, from barrelling and ageing to bottling and serving, it is the dedication and passion of whisky lovers nationwide that makes the drink so popular, creating intrigue for many visitors to the country.
Across the Highlands, Islands and Lowlands: better described as the whisky regions of Islay, Speyside, the Lowlands, the Highlands and Campbeltown, almost every inch of the country has its own flavour and local brewery from which bottles are showcased in gantries across the country.
Many visitors to Scotland are whisky novices; others are seasoned drinkers who know exactly what flavours they like. For those who are making their way through Glasgow, there is no shortage of bars and pubs equipped with knowledgeable, passionate teams to serve the perfect dram or host an impromptu whisky tasting for interested parties. We’ve selected seven of the best whisky bars in Glasgow that are definitely worth stopping by to explore Scotland’s flavours.
To many Glaswegians this bar needs no introduction. The Òran Mór doesn’t even have a street address: simply indicating the top because, as most locals will tell you, it’s difficult to miss. Originally the Kelvinside Parish Church, the building has become a multipurpose entertainment destination, hosting performances and theatre shows alongside its restaurant and bar. But it’s the central whisky bar that is heart of the venue, sprawling across the main floor of the old church. Its gantries climb to the ceiling, filled with a variety of whisky and, as one of the latest opening establishments in the West End, it remains busy until close for anyone to stop by for a nightcap.
The top of Byres Road
The Wee Pub at the Chip
From one of the giants of the West End to one of the smallest. The Wee Pub at the Chip was the first pub to be built on the quaint cobbled streets of Ashton Lane and to this day remains one of the smallest across Scotland. The size of the premises doesn’t change the quality of the whisky they stock. The intimate bar ensures everyone feels welcome and staff can dedicate their attention to sharing their knowledge of whisky with any interested patrons too.
12 Ashton Lane
The Pot Still
City centre pub The Pot Still has been fuelled by whisky for generations. There is a tradition here for families to inherit and share the pub, with the current Murphy clan taking ownership of the bar in 2011 and since then winning a number of whisky accolades. Opening originally in 1867, there are three generations of both whisky and history in the premises, which became a whisky bar in 1981. This adds a jolly, welcoming pub vibe to the Pot Still that currently houses over 700 whiskies and cask ales, with knowledgeable, friendly staff serving both drinks and homemade pies. Those behind the bar are passionate about the drink, and if you’re able attend one of their whisky tastings you’ll catch their enthusiasm for the drink. They also organise private tastings upon request.
154 Hope Street
The Ben Nevis Bar
Traditional whisky combined with traditional music give the Ben Nevis its spirit. Nestled on the corner of Finnieston’s busiest entertainment street, this pub stands out in an increasingly gentrified area that is at risk of taking itself too seriously. The Ben Nevis definitely couldn’t be accused of this, though they are serious about their whisky. Nights spent here often end with an impromptu music performance and sampling one too many of the bar’s whiskies.
1147 Argyle Street
Located on Woodlands Road in Glasgow’s West End, Dram! is only a few minutes from Glasgow University, making it popular for students as well as local residents. Given its name it would be rude not to stop by for a dram of one of the various whiskies on offer; this includes not only tipples from Scotland but also the odd malt from Ireland and India. Whisky is not the only reason to head to Dram! over the week, the bar hosts regular evening entertainment and serves a menu of Scottish pub classics.
232 Woodlands Road
Found just past the popular Byres Road in Partick, The Lismore is an authentic pub that needs no gentrifying or updating. Taking its name from a small island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, it is quite possible the bar stocks more whisky than the island has people living on it. Opening its doors in 1996, there is a traditional pub vibe found here, made by a hoard of faithful customers who frequent the bar both day and night. A unique trait for only the men to enjoy, is based in the mens’ bathrooms where you are offered the opportunity to pay personal respects to some of the men behind the Highland Clearances. This pub is authentic Scottish tradition and character at its best.
206 Dumbarton Road
Starting out life as an ale house, the McDonagh family, as well as many before them, channelled their passion for whisky into transforming the premises into a specialist whisky bar. Ale lovers will be pleased to know, however, they’ve not neglected their roots and stock high quality ale too. With over 400 whiskies occupying the gantry, the family themselves declare the rare 70-year old Glenlivet the highlight of the their collection. Many of those with a nose for whisky frequent Bon Accord; it is home to its very own Whisky Society, the host of many others and participates in Glasgow’s Whisky Festival.
153 North Street