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Issue 106 - Symbols of Intent

Whisky Magazine Issue 106
September 2012


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Symbols of Intent

Gavin D. Smith visits a distillery with big plans for the future

For many years Springbank has led the way in keeping the old ‘whisky capital' of Campbeltown on the Scotch whisky map, while the Argyllshire port's second historic distillery of Glen Scotia has lurked in the background like a slightly seedy and unkempt relative at a family gathering. But Glen Scotia – both distillery and brand - is now in the process of undergoing a major makeover, and will soon be in a position to share centre stage with its higher profile neighbour.

The two are close contemporaries, with Glen Scotia having been founded in 1832, four years after Springbank. They were established during a remarkable boom in the Campbeltown whisky industry, which saw 24 new distilleries commence production between 1823 and 1835.

Times have been hard for Campbeltown distilling since the 1920s, but while Springbank has been bolstered through the difficult years by committed family ownership, Glen Scotia has not been so fortunate.

The distillery was established by Stewart, Galbraith & Co Ltd, and having thrived for a century, in common with the rest of the Campbeltown distilling industry, it closed in 1928, as the region's whisky-making momentum ground to a near halt. At the time of its closure, Glen Scotia was in the hands of Campbeltown businessman Duncan MacCallum.

Production resumed at Glen Scotia in 1933, with the distillery owned by Bloch Brothers (Distillers) Ltd, from whom it passed via Hiram Walker (Scotland) Ltd to the Glasgow blender A Gillies & Co, which becam...

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