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Issue 34 - The last show in town (Springbank)

Whisky Magazine Issue 34
October 2003


This article is 14 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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The last show in town (Springbank)

Campbeltown was once a thriving centre for whisky production. Now little remains. Is Springbank worth the journey? Our mystery visitor made the lengthy trek to find out

It took a long time to get to Campbeltown and, when I arrived, the profusion of palm trees in this delightfully Victorian town convinced me that I had been magically transported from Scotland to the Caribbean.

Surely this was a little rum distillery that I was visiting? Instead, in Springbank, I found a rum little distillery, though none the less interesting for that.

Springbank is something of an anachronism – just about the last remnant of a once proud tradition that all but died out in the 1930s as, one by one, the Campbeltown distillers closed their doors.

It's not that easy to visit. Apart from the four hour trip from Glasgow, the distillery only offers tours from April to September, then only for four days a week and, even then, only once a day.

You have to book in advance and you can forget any ideas of a fancy visitor centre with lavishly produced corporate videos. Or a tasting. Or even a shop.

Instead, what you get is Jim, an ex-British Telecom engineer rescued from early retirement by the opportunity to host tours.

“It passes the time,” was his laconic assessment of this radical career change.

The distillery itself is a time machine.

Though in the elegant little history book that you can purchase for £3 from the distillery office, owner Hedley G Wright makes the startling claim that “the company has been one of the pioneers in mechanisation within the distilling industry”, careful study reveals that this was written around 1962 – and little app...

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