Whisky Magazine Issue 19
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Campbeltown was the one-time whisky capital that experienced a catastrophic boom and bust. Dave Broom explains how Springbank, by sharing the same mentality and philosophy as Bob Dylan, are well positioned to take advantage of a surge of interst in hand-crafted whisky
Frank McHardy is pushing open a massive black corrugated iron door. “Be careful,” he says as we step into the gloom. “There's pigeon shit everywhere.” He's not wrong. This empty shell is littered with feathers, bones and other detritus but the underfoot conditions are immediately forgotten as he begins pointing into darkened corners of the building.
“The mash tun will be there, the wash backs over there and ... (spinning round) that's where the stills will be. On a
mezzanine floor.” Not your normal distillery tour, but this is Campbeltown, Frank is Manager of Springbank and they do things differently here. This isn't Springbank he's showing me around of course, this is Glengyle. Or it will be Glengyle in a couple of years once Frank gets his whisky-making kit installed. Until then it's a huge empty stone shed which last distilled in anger in 1925 and in recent years has been a garage, an animal feed store and firing range – presumably with pigeons as targets.
The site came up for sale earlier this year and was bought by Hedley Wright, Springbank's current owner whose great-great uncle, William Mitchell, had owned it. Barnard, who visited Campbeltown in 1887 was obviously irritated that Mitchell wasn't there to receive him and gave it a cursory entry in his Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, most of which was taken up with a description of “the fine view of cultured gardens, cultivated fields and hill slopes.” This vista has been replaced by a less...