A century ago Campbeltown was the heartland
whisky industry. Back then, the city was famous as 'the
capital of the whisky world' with more than thirty active
distilleries in the area. Many of them were founded in the
19th century during one of the 'golden era's' of the Scotch
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 their whisky quickly and cheaply to major markets.
Campbeltown is probably the least known
the smallest Scottish malt whisky region. Named after the
only real town on the Kintyre peninsula, there are only two
active whisky distilleries left in the Campbeltown region;
Springbank and Glen Scotia - three if you count Glengyle.
But things used to be very different...
Campeltown is known as 'Ceann Loch Chille Chiarain' in Gaelic - but if you think that's a mouthful, be happy they changed the original name from 'Kinlochkilkerran' (which means 'head of the loch by the kirk of St. Kieran'). During the heydays, huge steam ships delivered thousands of casks and bottles to Glasgow, London and the America's.
But everything went pear-shaped at the start of the 20th century when overproduction started to take its toll - followed by the world wide depression and prohibition in the USA. This meant that the vast majority of distilleries in the area were shut down.
By the end of WWII all except two distilleries had closed down. The current Springbank distillery (built in 1828) has gradually incorporated parts of a few 'silent stills'
- Argyll, Longrow, Rieclachan, Springside and Toberanrigh. Glen Gyle is another silent distillery in the area; the name is now used for a second whisky plant from owners of Springbank.
It's located on the same address and they mostly use the same equipment..
The remote location makes it less than ideal for distillery visits; it will take you a few hours to get there and then another few hours to get back to civilisation. Booking a hotel seems to make sense - for example the hotel that Alexander Barnard stayed in when he visited the area. Although one would imagine the locals would welcome tourists, many of them don't seem keen on visitors...
I've already mentioned some of the closed malt whisky distilleries
Campbeltown peninsula. However, these were not all Campbeltown
distilleries that were closed in the past decade or so...
You can find a full listing of all malt whisky distilleries in Scotland that
were closed (with more background details) at fellow malt maniac Ulf
Buxrud's website: http://www.buxrud.se/lost.htm.
'The nearest place to nowhere, and the furthest from anywhere...' Isn't that a lovely recommendation for a travel brochure? Well, there's some
truth to the saying; Campbeltown is very remote.
Campbeltown is actually the part of Scotland that is closest to Ireland; maybe a dozen miles across the Irish Sea. There even used to be a ferry service between Campbeltown and Ireland, but that has been discontinued in 2002.
The list includes malt whisky 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 with the generic
name 'Campbeltown' which was closed in 1924.
Some other extinct distilleries in the Campbeltown area are Dalaruan (closed in 1922),
Dalintober (closed 1925), Glengyle (1925), Glen Nevis (1923), Glenside (1926), Hazelburn
(1925), Kinloch (1926), Kintyre (1920), Lochhead (1928), Lochruan (1925), Longrow
(1896), Meadowburn (1882) and Rieclachan (which managed to survive until 1934,
making it the last in a long line of lost names).
So, with just two active distilleries, Campbeltown is the least significant whisky region...
Is the distillery or