Manager of the Pot Still Glasgow, Runner of the Pot Still’s Women only tasting club and now organiser of a fantastic charity event
It’s all work, work, work here in the Corner, but it was no great hardship to head through to Glasgow’s Pot Still to interview the fantastic Geraldine with a dram or two!
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My father has owned pubs since I was about 12 and I’ve grown up around pubs. As soon as we were old enough we would work in the pub and learn the ropes. I’ve known the Pot Still, and at least one member of the family have worked here, since I was 19. It’s very familiar to me and I love working in this industry. When I am not here, I am usually found at the gym after 1am, I have so much energy when I finish a shift I need to go and expend it. I also love having cuddles with my nephew!
Have you always been a whisky fan?
No, when I first started at the Pot Still I hadn’t even drank whisky and I certainly didn’t know anything about it, working here changed all of that, I had to learn about whisky and found which styles I liked drinking.
Has all your knowledge been learnt on the job?
No, although I learnt a lot, I also went to Auchentoshan Distillery and learnt a lot there and I completed John Lamond’s whisky course, we also send our new staff on this course as well, it’s excellent!
The Pot Still is very much a family run business isn’t it?
You could say that! There’s myself, my Dad, my brother Frank and four cousins and my cousin’s girlfriend.
Does that cause arguments?
There are sometimes when my Dad and Frank will maybe have different opinions on something, and as they are very alike, it can fall to me to have the casting vote, but that doesn’t happen very often, obviously dad has so much knowledge and experience in running pubs, but Frank and I bring the whisky knowledge. We are all so passionate about the business and that’s a great thing and usually keeps us all on the same page.
Despite having so many whiskies, you seem to have a lot of people in for the beer etc?
Yes, we are probably a 60/40 split between people that are here just for the whisky and people that don’t drink whisky at all but are regulars, or just here, as they know it’s a safe pub, with no trouble and friendly staff and locals.
What’s the best thing about working with your family?
It keeps us close, as I have my cousins working here, I see them more than I otherwise would, and often get aunts and uncles popping in, so that’s a huge benefit. It also means that everyone working here genuinely cares about the business and shares the same passion that many of our customers do.
If you and Frank are working the bar together to find that people will only take advice from him?
It doesn’t happen often but there are some people that still presume that Frank will know more about whisky then I do. It’s not only if it’s Frank and I working, I was working one shift with one of my cousins, and we had an American gentleman in that was asking him about whisky, he explained he couldn’t answer and that he would get someone who knows more about whisky (me).
I answered his questions, but after that he went back to my cousins to ask him more questions, who then told him again, he couldn’t help and that he should talk to me. Thankfully that’s not the norm.
You started the Pot Still Whisky Girls (female only) Tasting Club, why?
As soon as dad took over the Pot Still, I know I wanted to do something that would involve women and whisky, making it more accessible to women and encourage women that may not come to a mixed tasting.
I started the group and we had our first meeting, I wasn’t sure if anybody would turn up but I ended up with 27, which was just fantastic. I handed out questionnaires at the end to see if people would be interested in doing it again, and everybody was! We’ve been running for almost three years now and I’ve not had time to look back.
What challenges have you faced running the tasting club?
When there are so many members it can be quite difficult to keep the communication open, I’m usually chasing people for a response. I like to keep the tastings fun and fresh as well so that can be difficult, and obviously whilst I arrange this event, I am still working and arranging other events for the bar as well.
What has been the most rewarding aspects of running the club?
Enjoying the tastings and seeing people who wouldn’t have otherwise tried whisky or a whisky tasting, having fun and coming back time and time again.
For our first year we only had female presenters but now we have both male and female presenters and it’s great to get their feedback on what we are doing. Most have a great time and join us for a drink afterwards too.
When you first started the tasting group, was there any negativity at all?
Mostly it was positive, we had a few of the regulars asking when there would be a boy’s club but it was all in good humour. Surprisingly the only real negativity came from another woman.
Whyte and Mackay had posted about our tasting club on their Facebook page and there was one woman who said that she “didn’t need positive discrimination” and the like, but people on the thread were really very passionate about the need for the tasting club. We had a lovely letter following a piece the Herald wrote from a gentleman, saying that he thought we were doing a great job.
You’ve set up an event for International Women’s Day, tell us about it?
I’ve been thinking of a way to get involved with International Women’s Day for a while, this year I decided it was time to go for it and set up an event. So I am hosting a Pot Still Ladies charity lunch, although this event is open to all women. We have a drinks reception with not only whisky cocktails, but gin and beer thanks to Eden Brewery. Lunch, with wine and of course whisky, we have some wonderful speakers, and we will have a charity raffle too.
How challenging has creating this event been?
It’s been much harder than I thought it would be, trying to organise the venue, the sponsors, the speakers, then promoting the event itself. All the while I still have my day job here at the Pot Still and I still have events to arrange for the Ladies Tasting and such like. It’s been very stressful.
What are you looking forward to the most?
The event itself, once it’s started I can worry less and start to enjoy it. It’s important to me that I can be part of giving something back, and as all proceeds raised go to Women’s Aid, it’s an incredibly important charity and one that it’s fitting we are a part of.
Will there be another event next year?
Ask me after this one, but in all honesty, I do plan for this to become a yearly occurrence.
Can tickets still be purchased?
Yes, numbers are limited but you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and how to purchase tickets.
Is it true that you are listed as the best restaurant in Glasgow on Trip Advisor?
Yes, that actually is true, it’s quite funny really, especially when people phone us trying to reserve a table and then we have to explain that unless they want a pie or a soup and sandwich.
And finally, your favourite dram?
That’s tough, I love anything from GlenDronach or Glenfarclas, my favourite every day dram would be the GlenDronach 18.
Thanks Geraldine, a great event for an excellent cause. Follow the Pot Still on twitter @potstillglasgow and join in the whisky fun on 8h March!
Kirsty Clarke (@kirstyclarke29)