Once a thriving malt whisky region, Campbeltown has a special place in the history of Scottish whisky. One of five areas categorised as a distinct malt whisky producer, along with the Lowlands, the Highlands, Islay, and Speyside, Campbeltown is famous for once having over 30 distilleries, each producing a unique, characterful single malt whisky. Today, only three distilleries remain in this remote settlement. Despite their scarcity, these distilleries serve as dutiful reminders of Campbeltown’s illustrious past, while also cementing the location as a solid contender in modern whisky production.
The Growth and Collapse of Campbeltown
Campbeltown’s focus on producing high-quality whiskies lead to the region’s enduring fame throughout much of the 1800s, with many of its distinct whiskies remaining highly praised into the early 20th century.
However, a catastrophic series of events led to Campbeltown’s drastic decline. A shifting focus to quantity over quality and the demand for a lighter, less pungent flavour led to Campbeltown’s style falling out of favour with blenders. Whisky consumption also declined as a result of the First World War, and the post-war downturn further affected the economy of the region.
By the end of the 1920s, only one of Campbeltown’s 34 distilleries remained open. With the reopening of Springbank and Glen Scotia in 1934, this final distillery ceased production too.
Campbeltown Single Malts
Campbeltown was home to 34 distilleries during its heyday in the early- to mid-1800s. These distilleries were famous for the smokey, oily character of their whiskies, with the fertile fields of Kintyre, the waters of Crosshill Loch, and coal from Drumlemble providing the perfect raw minerals for an unforgettable taste. Despite this boom in whisky production, only the Glengyle, Glen Scotia, and Springbank distilleries remain. Each of these produces whiskies in a range of styles, while still honouring the distinct character of Campbeltown’s history.
Licensed in 1828, Springbank is one of the last surviving single malt whisky producers in Campbeltown. The family-owned distillery is famous for being the only Scottish distillery to carry out every step of the whisky-making process on-site, from traditional floor malting and maturation to bottling the final product. This dedication to tradition and attention to detail has allowed Springbank to cement its status as one of the best whiskies in Scotland.
Springbank Single Malt Whiskies
Springbank produces three distinct variations of single malt whiskies, each created through subtle tweaking at various stages of the production process. The traditional character and style of Springbank whiskies include smoke, peach, apple, nutmeg, earth, and wet wool. Springbank’s whiskies include:
- Springbank Single Malt: The distillery’s flagship whisky and its most popular variety, the Springbank Single Malt has a unique character all its own. This whisky is made using lightly peated barley and is distilled two and a half times, creating a full-bodied flavour. Springbank single malt whiskies are available in 10, 12, 15, 18, and 21-year-old bottlings, each with its own individual finish.
- Longrow Single Malt: Longrow is a double distilled, highly peated, smokey single malt whisky that resulted from a unique experiment by Springbank’s chairman. Springbank’s Longrow Single Malt is available in three bottlings, namely Peated, Red, and an 18-year-old.
- Hazelburn Single Malt: First distilled in 1997, Hazelburn is Springbank’s newest variety. This non-peated whisky has a subtle, fruity flavour created using air-dried malt and a triple distillation process, and is available in 10 and 12-year-old bottlings.
With a current production level of 500 000 litres and a staff of just seven employees, Glen Scotia is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland. Affectionately known as Old Scotia or The Scotia, Glen Scotia was founded in 1932 and has changed hands several times. Since its most recent acquisition by Loch Lomond Distillers, the distillery has seen major investments that have allowed it to regain its status as a leading whisky producer.
Glen Scotia Single Malt Whiskies
Glen Scotia has always produced peated and non-peated whiskies, both maintained in their modern whisky production, allowing the distillery to preserve their own character. The standard flavours of Glen Scotia’s single malts include sea salt, vanilla, oak, ginger, apricot, orange. Today, Glen Scotia’s whiskies include:
- Double Cask: Matured in bourbon barrels and finished for 12 months in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, this whisky offers a spicy, fruity taste with Glen Scotia’s famous sea spray and vanilla oak overlay.
- Victoriana: Finished in charred oak and bottled without filtration, the Victoriana is a smooth whisky with a subtle wood and vanilla flavour and smokey aftertaste.
- 15 Year Old: With hints of vanilla oak, sea spray, and fruit, this whisky is matured in American oak barrels before bottling.
- 16 Year Old: This whisky is matured in a combination of American oak and bourbon barrels, creating a subtle nose with notes of vanilla, sea spray, and spicy fruits.
- 18 Year Old: The 18-year-old whisky is matured in specially selected casks to give it its salty, sweet nose, rich, fruity vanilla flavours, and gentle, spicy finish.
- 25 Year Old: Matured in American oak barrels, this whisky has a slightly salty nose with hints of red apple, vanilla, and orange peel.
- 1832 Campbeltown: A true Campbeltown whisky, this expression has a higher peat content that contributes to its sweet, smoky character. It also boasts a smokey nose, a balanced flavour of vanilla and spiced apple, and a lingering, peat finish.
Also known as Mitchell’s Glengyle Distillery, Glengyle is considered Campbeltown’s “newest, oldest distillery”. Founded in 1872 by William Mitchell, Glengyle suffered along with the other major Campbeltown distilleries during its downturn and eventually ceased production in 1925. The distillery was brought back to life in 2004 when the chairman of J&A Mitchell bought the old buildings and ensured its reopening. Glengyle is now a part of Springbank and is famous for its production of the Kilkerran single malt.
Glengyle’s Kilkerran Single Malt Whiskies
Despite Glengyle’s limited production quantities, the production process is still carried out according to the time-honoured methods, ensuring its exceptional quality. The distinct character of Glengyle’s Kilkerran single malt includes orange, lemon, vanilla, butterscotch, smoke, and salt. Their latest bottlings include:
- Kilkerran 12-Year-Old: With a nose of dominant oak toasted marshmallows, and cherries, and citrus, vanilla, and butterscotch flavours, this whisky also features the oiliness and saltiness associated with a traditional Campbeltown dram.
- Kilkerran 8-Year-Old: This whisky features an aroma of peat and green apple, an earthy, salty flavour with hints of icing sugar, and a smooth finish.
- Kilkerran Work in Progress Range: First released in 2009, the Work in Progress range is produced in limited quantities and features unique, experimental flavours, aromas, and finishes. This range includes the Work in Progress 1, 2, 3, and 4 whiskies, along with bourbon matured and sherry matured variations in the Work in Progress 5, 6, and 7 whiskies.
- Mitchell’s Glengyle Blend: With a sweet aroma of lemon and vanilla, a slightly smokey, floral flavour, and a salty finish, this blend also features the slight oiliness of a traditional Campbeltown whisky.
Browse our selection of exceptional whiskies from these historic distilleries here, and place your order with The House of Whisky today. We also offer a broad range of other specialist Scotch whiskies, all available at competitive prices.