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Campbeltown - From a Trio To a Sextet

Updated: Apr 23

Campbeltown whisky distilleries

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


Campbeltown was once a thriving hub for Scotch whisky production, boasting 27 active distilleries at its peak. However, many of these distilleries were short-lived and those that managed to survive the 1850s ultimately closed down in the 1920s, following the First World War and a decline in the quality of their products. Eventually, only two distilleries, Springbank and Glen Scotia, remained in operation in Campbeltown.


In 2004, the name of the previously closed distillery - Glengyle - was revived by the owners of Springbank distillery. Hazelburn and Longrow were also names of closed distilleries that Springbank had adopted for different types of whisky produced at the distillery. Longrow heavily peated whisky was introduced in 1985, and the unpeated Hazelburn was introduced recognisein 1997. However, Glengyle, also owned by a member of the Mitchell family between 1872 and 1925, became the first new distillery to open in Campbeltown in almost 125 years.


Companies have recognized the potential of Campbeltown, as evidenced by the success of Springbank, Glengyle, and the re-launch of the Glen Scotia range, during the global whisky distillery boom. In addition to the existing three distilleries, three new-generation Campbeltown - or should we say Kintyre peninsula - distilleries are set to launch soon.


Let's take a look at what we know about the Dal Riata, Machrihanish and Witchburn distillery projects so far.

Campbeltown whisky distilleries

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


 

Dal Riata

Dal Riata distillery

Kinloch Distillery Ltd was first registered as a company in March 2021. The company's main focus was on distilling, rectifying and blending spirits. However, the name was changed to Dal Riata Distillery Ltd in April 2021, instead of using the name of the closed Campbeltown distillery.


The name 'Dal Riata' is named after the Kingdom of Alban, Dál Riata, which in the 6th and 7th centuries covered the whole of Argyll, including Islay, Jura, Mull, Ardnamurchan, Cowal, a north-eastern corner of Ireland and Kintyre peninsula.


The planning application for the distillery was filed in August 2022 and approved in September 2023. The £4.5 million Dal Riata distillery will soon be located on Kinloch Road in the heart of Campbeltown, and it will include a blending and bottling facility for South Star Spirits, a visitor centre, a tasting room and a retail outlet.


The distillery will be using locally grown barley for its single malt whisky and have a capacity of 850,000 litres of pure alcohol per year.


The directors of Dal Riata are Iain Croucher, Ronnie Grant and David Stirk. Iain Croucher also owns North Star Spirits, an independent bottling company. Ronnie Grant has over 25 years of experience in the construction sector and is the owner and managing director of RB Grant. On the other hand, David Stirk is the former owner of Creative Whisky Co and the author of 'The Distilleries of Campbeltown'.


Dal Riata distillery

Images by Dal Riata Distillery


 

Machrihanish

Machrihanish distillery logo

The Machrihanish Distillery is a trading name of R&B Distillers Limited - also known as the owner of Isle of Raasay distillery. The company acquired Dhurrie Farm next to Campbeltown airport in 2021 and plans to turn it into a state-of-the-art, carbon-neutral whisky distillery.


The distillery project takes its name from a village in Argyll, located just north of the Mull of Kintyre. The village's name loosely translates to 'noisy grazing place'.


In early 2022, plans for a project were revealed, but it was put on hold, waiting for a response from the Argyll and Bute Council. Finally, in April 2024, the council granted the company planning permission, allowing the project to move forward. At the same time, the company announced that it had acquired the majority stake in Caskshare.com.


Machrihanish distillery

Images by R&B Distillers Limited / Spirits Business


 

Witchburn

Witchburn distillery logo

In May 2023, Brave New Spirits Ltd, an independent bottler and blending company based in Glasgow, announced plans for the Witchburn distillery. The facility will be located between the village of Machrihanish and Campbeltown airport and will be housed in a building complex that was formerly an RAF Machrihanish airbase. The plan is to create a modern, carbon-neutral distillery at the site.


The distillery project quickly secured planning permission in September 2023, with a possible distillation start in late 2024. The name of the distillery is a combination of the village folk healers, who were later known as witches, and a "burn," which refers to a small river or stream. Please note that the name does not refer to burning witches.


Co-founders Adam Hochul and Alexander Springensguth have hired Andrew Nairn, a former distillery manager of Glenkinchie, Strathmill, and Borders Distillery, as the master distiller for the new venture. The distillery is set to produce two million litres of whisky annually, including unpeated, lightly peated, and heavily peated varieties.


The distillery will have its own on-site warehousing, located close to the ocean. The new make spirit will be mainly filled into American bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry casks, with some Tawny and Ruby Port pipes and organic Bordeaux barriques mixed in.


Plans for Witchburn whisky distillery

Images by Witchburn Distillery

 

What has been your favourite Campbeltown whisky release? Let us know in the comments below.




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