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Issue 20 - Sole Survivor (Glengoyne)

Whisky Magazine Issue 20
December 2001

 

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Sole Survivor (Glengoyne)

John Lamond visits Glengoyne Distillery – an enduring whisky landmark in an area littered with the remains of over 20 distilleries that didn't withstand the tests of time

My ‘local' is Glengoyne. Just a short hop across the centre of Glasgow and a wee drive out towards Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and there it sits, nestling snugly under the beautiful and impressive Dumgoyne Hill. From my home I can see the line of the Campsie Hills, with the volcanic plug which is Dumgoyne Hill seemingly detached from the rest of the ridge at its western end and the oft snow-covered Ben Lomond behind and to the left. So, if I say that I can see Glengoyne Distillery from my bedroom window it is only a wee bit of an exaggeration.

In an area that formerly boasted in excess of 20 distilleries, Glengoyne is the sole remaining survivor with even the ruins of its local competitors being long ago razed to the ground. The surrounding area had been a lawless one, with distillation and smuggling of the spirit into nearby Glasgow's many bars an everyday part of rural life. The local hills and glens, although close to the city, could be very inhospitable to outsiders if the inhabitants so decided, making it relatively easy to hide in the area.

The Campsies were criss-crossed by a network of drove roads along which cattle were driven from the more remote areas to the north and north-west, southwards to the cattle markets (or trysts) of Glasgow and Falkirk. One such road followed the route of the modern A81 which passes between the distillery and its warehouses. Another crossed the top of the Campsies near Dumgoyne Hill, although this would have been a very difficult...

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