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Issue 83 - A great loss

Whisky Magazine Issue 83
October 2009


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A great loss

Gavin D Smith charts the rise and fall of one of the largest distilleries in the Whisky City.

As fortunes go in the whisky business, Campbeltown has had it tough. Described by Alfred Barnard as “The Whisky City”during the 1880s, the fishing port on the Kintyre peninsula of Argyllshire boasted no fewer than 20 working distilleries at the time of his visit.

By the mid-1930s that number had fallen to just two, and even with the revival of the former Glengyle distillery in 2004, the historic town can even now only boast three productive distilleries.

Of these, Glen Scotia's output falls far short of its capacity,though Springbank gives real meaning to the much-overused term ‘iconic.' Of all the lost distilleries of Campbeltown, Hazelburn was ultimately the largest and most significant, and the first record of its existence dates from 1825, though it is thought that distilling may well have taken place on the site in Longrow prior to that time.

Alfred Barnard writes in his Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom (1887) that Hazelburn “…was founded in the last century.” The distillery was licensed to Greenlees, Colville & Co,and members of the Colville family were at the forefront of Campbeltown distilling for a century or more. They had active involvement in the Campbeltown, Kinloch and Dalaruan distilleries, as well as Hazelburn,where Archibald Colville was in partnership with Daniel and Matthew Greenlees.

In 1845, with business booming, a new, enlarged Hazelburn distillery was constructed in Millknowe Street,where the Parliament House of King James IV h...

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