About this SPIRIT
Glen Scotia Distillery, Campbeltown
The Glen Scotia whisky distillery was founded in 1832 by Stewart Galbraith under the name of Scotia Distillery. The business prospered at the end of the 19th century, and another distillery, Glen Nevis also located in Campbeltown, was acquired in order to satisfy a growing demand.
Glen Scotia has been silent on frequent occasions this century, including a recent spell in the 1980s. However, the distillery keeps on bouncing back and welcomes visitors with its new facilities. The distillery had a very stable existence throughout the 19th century. From 1832 to 1895 it belonged to the original licensees, but then changed hands twice more before falling silent, as did so many of its neighbours, in the 1920s.
For a while it belonged to the owners of Scapa distillery in Orkney, right at the other end of the country. It was owned by Gibson International, until 1994 when production again ceased. The new owners are Loch Lomond Distillery Co. Ltd. The buildings, including the malt barns and the barley lofts, are Victorian and the stillhouse is thought to be original. A single pair of stills contrasts with the set of three used at Springbank. The water is drawn from Crosshill Loch and the distillery’s own wells which are 80 feet deep.
The distillery has a resident ghost, that of a previous owner, Duncan MacCallum, who committed suicide in 1930 after losing a fortune in a crooked business deal. Glen Scotia has 2000 casks in store which are maturing for bottling as a single malt at fourteen years of age at 40% vol. Glen Scotia drinks well when it is young and lively.
Campbeltown today is a strangely sober and robust town at the end of the Kintyre peninsula. In the middle of the 19th centaury it was a thriving centre for whisky production with the town being home to 34 distilleries at its peak allowing it to proclaim itself to be the whisky capital of the world. Today there are only two distilleries in Campbeltown, Glen Scotia and Springbank.
Of these two Springbank is by far and away the most successful. The distillery, produces three distinct types of whisky (the only two other distilleries to produce more than one are Loch Lomond and Tobermory).
Springbank is quite unusual in that unlike most brands of whisky it is not chill-filtered, nor does it have colour added. The spirit is aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, although Springbank is experimenting with rum casks as well. The standard 10 year old bottling is available at 46% volume, but a 100° proof bottling (at 57% volume) is also available. They also produce a somewhat darker 15 year old. A 21 year old variety of Springbank exists, but is increasingly rare.
Longrow Single Malt is a very heavily peated whisky. The standard Longrow is also a ten year old, matured in ex-bourbon casks, while a Sherrywood 10 year old is also available. There is also an experimental tokaji-cask expression available.
Hazelburn Single Campbeltown Malt was first distilled in 1997. Hazelburn is a triple distilled, non-peated whisky.
Springbank is also one of the very few distilleries in Scotland to perform every step in the whisky making process, from malting the barley to bottling the spirit, on same premises.
In recent years the Springbank distillery has also brought an old distillery back from the dead. Some 200 metres away down a small back street is the Glengyle distillery. In late 2000 the company of Mitchell's Glengyle Ltd. was formed with the express purpose of renovating and rebuilding the Glengyle distillery. Mitchell's are associated with the Springbank distillery and both operations come under the guidance of Mr. Hedley Wright, a descendant of the Mitchell Family, the original owners of both businesses.
Over the next four years the buildings were repaired to an adequate standard, being restored in line with the local area and the buildings' listed building status (Protected by law). A new pair of giant stills from Invergordon, malt mills, a mash tun and washbacks were installed along with all the related equipment. Production at the new Glengyle distillery began in 2004 with the first spirit expected to be ready by 2014. The whisky from the new Glengyle distillery will not be called Glengyle, rather it will be bottled under the name Kilkerran. This is both to avoid confusion with the vatted malt of the same name and also because traditionally, Campbeltown malts are not named after a Glen.
The exception to that rule is of course Glen Scotia. Generally, Glen Scotia is a lightly smoky, salty single malt with a quite concentrated nose and good length despite a delicate structure.