The vast majority of Campbeltown distilleries were shut down.
The list includes distilleries like Albyn (closed in 1920), Ardlussa
(closed in 1923), Argyll (there have actually been two distilleries
by this name, the last one closed in 1923), Ballegreggan,
Benmore (1927), Burnside (1924, but there were no less than
three distilleries by this name), Caledonian (1851) and one
distillery just named 'Campbeltown' (which was closed in 1924).
Other closed distilleries are Glengyle (1925), Hazelburn (1925)
and Longrow (1896). The brands were incorporated by Springbank.
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The miracle of whisk(e)y distillation may (or may not) have
Like the name suggests, this is a 'BEGINNER'S GUIDE' - I've tried to keep things as concise & understandable as possible.Much more details can be found in the ADVANCED BEGINNER'S GUIDE - but that's not quite finished at the moment.
For now, the
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Campeltown is known as 'Ceann Loch Chille Chiarain' in Gaelic. The name means
'Head of the loch by the kirk of St. Kieran' and it is often simplified to 'Kinlochkilkerran',
With only two or three active distilleries (in 2016, and depending on how you count),
Campbeltown is the least significant malt whisky region - at least for now...
Somebody once described
the city of Campbeltown as:
'The nearest place to nowhere,
and the furthest from anywhere'.
There's some truth to that
saying; Campbeltown is very
remote and has its own airport.
If you want to drive there from
Glasgow by car, you might as
well stop by Oban distillery.
It’s located more than
100 kilometres to the north.
So, Campbeltown is very remote.
A trip by car will take most people a few hours - plus another few hours to get back to civilisation.
What’s more, the Glen Scotia distillery doesn’t offer tours and is sometimes shut down for months.
That leaves just the Springbank distillery as a possible destination for whisky lovers. Fortunately,
Sprinbank does provide distillery tours - something to look forward to for intrepid travelers.
Yeah, I guess so - at least from a whisky fanatic’s point of view.
From that perspective, it makes sense that Campbeltown isn’t considered a whisky region any
more by the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) these days. But don’t let that dissuade you if you
were planning to make the trip. The drive to the ‘Mull of Kintyre’ is beautiful and if you want to
spend the night in the area it is still possible to book a room in the hotel where whisky writer
Alexander Barnard stayed when he visited the area more than a century ago.
Around that time, there still were dozens of active distilleries in Campbeltown.
By the end of World War II, all except two Campbeltown distilleries had closed down.
However, the Springbank distillery (built in 1828) has incorporated parts of a few 'silent stills'
into its own operation - including Argyll, Longrow, Rieclachan, Springside and Toberanrigh.
And another silent Campbeltown distillery was incorporated by Springbank more recently;
the name ‘Glen Gyle’ is now used for a second whisky plant from the owners of Springbank.
The Glengyle ‘distillery’ Is located on the same address as Springbank and they mostly use the same equipment.
So, it’s partly a ‘cosmetic’ malt whisky distillery - much like Kininvie on the grounds of Balvenie. Furthermore,
it doesn’t even produce a ‘Glengyle’ whisky; their brand of whisky is called ‘Kilkerran’ instead.
That’s all for now, but I’ll add some more words about Campbeltown soon...
However, things used to be very different in Campbeltown.
Around 1900 it was the heartland of the Scotch whisky industry
and the city was famous as 'the capital of the whisky world'.
Campbeltown had more than thirty active distilleries, many of
them founded in the 19th century during one of the periodic
'booms' of the Scottish whisky industry.
The Campbeltown area was blessed with lots of advantages that
helped it become the major whisky region of Scotland. Supplies
of water, barley, peat and coal were abundant and the coastal
location allowed distilleries to ship whisky quickly and cheaply.
During the heydays, huge steam ships delivered thousands of
bottles of Campbeltown whisky to world-wide whisky markets.
But everything went pear-shaped at the start of the 20th century
when overproduction started to take its toll. Supply started to
exceed demand and then a world wide depression hit at the end
of the 1920s. The final blow was prohibition in the USA.
Campbeltown is probably the least known Scotch whisky region.
The region is named after the only proper town at the southern
tip the Kintyre peninsula. At the moment there are 2,5 active malt
whisky distilleries left in Campbeltown; the ‘proper’ distilleries
Springbank and Glen Scotia and the semi-distillery Glengyle.
(Glengyle is more like an additional Springbank plant.)