I’ll mention now that the photos in this post really aren’t ideal, the lighting conditions made for some slightly blurry images, but they’ll have to do. This is a Good Beer Guide listed pub which specialises in malt whisky and real ale, with a reputation from some people I spoke to for being the best pub in Glasgow.
That back bar is far more exciting and interesting than this photo suggests, but the service here was on point throughout. Actually, I’d go further and say that it bordered on exceptional, with a real connection between the staff members and customers. The pub was full when I arrived so I asked if it was OK to sit at the bar, something which isn’t allowed at some places at the moment, which they were happy with.
One customer came over to the barman and asked for the best whisky of the several hundred that they had. The barman gave what I consider to be the correct answer, and one which I heard given at the English Whisky Company in Norfolk, which is that the best one is the one that an individual likes the best. Everyone will give different answers. The customer asked the barman what was his favourite and he replied that he wasn’t going to give an answer, as he wanted to help the customer get the best whisky for them, not the best for the barman. The customer persisted, asking which whisky had won the most awards, with the barman replying that nearly every whisky now has won some sort of award. The barman did keep trying to ask what kind of whisky the customer wanted, but I’m not sure that they knew themselves. He ended up with a Glenfiddich.
I’m with the barman on this. If someone asked me what the best beer was I’d be conscious that my answer is unlikely to be the ideal choice for anyone else. Although the answer here is the 8th Anniversary Pecan Cookie Stout from Westbrook Brewing Co, for which I’m already planning a trip to South Carolina, but that’s not entirely relevant here.
The pub has become something of a destination for locals and visitors to Glasgow, as is evident from the fact that they do t-shirts and postcards.
There’s a strong focus on whisky, but the bar doesn’t neglect beer with number real ales, craft beers and all manner of other quirky drinks. I opted for half a pint of the Born Blonde from Born in the Borders brewery and Goldihops from Kelburn Brewing Company, both well-kept.
The pub has numerous pies, which looked rather lovely and if they had the chicken & leek one I’d have been sold on that, but they were offering haggis and similar options. I’m sure they’re rather delicious, but I decided it was a bit decadent for me in terms of the taste, although the prices were reasonable. Beer prices were also reasonable, there’s no attempt to take advantage of customers here. I messaged my friend Richard about this pub and I’m fairly sure that he would definitely have liked this place (I make no comment about Bells) and I can imagine that he would have had a decadent pie, a decadent whisky and then another decadent whisky.
There are nearly no negative reviews for me to pull out, but I liked the owner’s robust response to someone who complained that the pub was busy.
“We’re disappointed you didn’t enjoy your visit with us. However if, as your other reviews suggest, you enjoy quiet, relaxed and tranquil places, then perhaps a Glasgow city centre pub, any of them, on pay weekend isn’t an ideal fit. We’ve thought about issuing slippers to patrons at the front door to keep the noise down but it didn’t get much support from the regulars. Likewise plastic cups instead of our normal glassware to dampen the clinking.”
Nicely done I think. But, the response to “5 stars if you are a whisky drinker but 1 star if drinking decent vodka and coke. Surly staff” is perhaps one of the best and most robust replies that I’ve seen and I love the “hello again” at the start from the landlord.
“Hello again. After seeing your Yelp review I thought you might, as you did on the night, try and moan to anyone who’d listen. And so I find you here. I can’t help that you can’t believe me. Nothing I could have then, or could now, would convince you otherwise.
You think I’ve swapped the “decent” Smirnoff ordered for another vodka on a busy Saturday night. I barely have time for a break on a Saturday night, let alone waste time giving you anything other than what you ordered.You think I was surly. If your business was being trashtalked by someone to anyone in earshot but you, you might be a touch peeved as well. Again, because you would rather run your mouth off to anyone at the bar you could arrest the attention of, rather than deal with the perceived problem with me directly, you were getting no more to drink in the pub in any eventuality.
You are annoyed that you were not immediately furnished with a new drink for free. If we haven’t made a mistake, we’re not giving out free drinks. We’re not apologising for imagined wrongs. I’ve made an arse of things many times, apologised to numerous people. I probably will again in the future. That’s just the way things go sometimes.”
As a pub, this was a delight and I’m grateful that the Good Beer Guide listed it. All very lovely and some really knowledgeable and on the ball staff. Definitely a proper pub.