When looking in a whisky shop or an online whisky exchange you will have noticed that whiskies are categorised by regions. So, what makes an Campbeltown whisky different from all the other whisky producing regions in Scotland? This is the last in a series of articles exploring the Scotch whisky production regions. I have examined the Lowland, Highland, Speyside, Islay and Islands regions. To understand the different regions is to appreciate the uniqueness of Scotch whisky.
Campbeltown is a town on the Kintyre peninsula on the west of Scotland. It holds a unique position of being classed as it’s own region when in reality it is a town. It used to be one of the wine delivery most prolific whisky producing regions in Scotland. At one point there were 34 distilleries in operation, thus the town could properly be called the “whisky capital of the world”. During the Great Depression in the US most of the distilleries went out of business. Now there remain only working distilleries, which for a small town, is still a great achievement.
The costal location is reflected in the character of the whisky. They tend to be dry and pungent, with some peated editions produced.
Glen Scotia. This has changed hands a number of times over the years since it started operation in 1832. The latest time that production was re-started was in 2000. It produces some limited edition whiskies. The whiskies produced are spicy with a hint of sherry. The operation is quite small with only 2 people producing the whisky 3 months in the year.
Glengyle. Whisky production here began in 2004 – so the first single malt will be available by 2014. The whisky from here will be called Kilkerran.
Springbank. It is one of only two whisky producers in Scotland to do every step in producing the whisky. They grow their own barley, malt their own barley on the premises and bottle the whisky. Now it’s becoming rarer that distilleries will malt their own barley.
This distillery produces three single malts from Campbeltown – Longrow, Hazelburn and Springbank. To obtain the difference in the whiskies three stills are used in different combinations and the peat levels are adjusted. Longrow is distilled twice and has strong peat flavour. Hazelburn lacks the peaty flavour, but is distilled three times. Springbank is in the middle – there are peat overtones and it is distilled two and a half times.
Springbank produces whiskies in casks that were used for bourbon and sherry production. They are now experimenting with rum casks.
While mostly overlooked Campbeltown produces some excellent whiskies which have character and tastes not found in other single malts. If only for the fact that there was so many whiskies produced here in the past and the heritage is continuing, Campbeltown is due proper recognition as a whisky region in it’s own right.