Arguably the capital of the Victorian whisky world, Campbeltown boasted over 25 distilleries in the mid 1800s. A dramatic decline in the 1920s led the number to fall to two by 1929. Today, there are three – so far (Glen Scotia, Springbank and Glengyle).
In the wake of the announcement of a new farm-to-town distillery in Campbeltown, Machrihanish, another new distillery is now set to join the region’s lineup. Plans have been submitted for the distillery, which will be located on Kinloch Road and overlook Campbeltown Loch, by Bowman Stewart Architects of Lochgilphead.
The distillery aims to enhance the local area and work within the Campbeltown Conservation Area scheme. The Still House will incorporate curtain-wall glazing, with a viewing balcony providing sweeping views of the Loch and bay. A retail and visitor centre will be situated adjacently, on Longrow.
The name Dál Riata is derived from that of the Gaelic kingdom that covered the western coast of Scotland and northeast Ireland between the 6th and 9th centuries. Dál Riata Distillery will utilise locally grown barley from Dunadd Hillfort; this area, near Lochgilphead, was the capital of the Dál Riata kingdom.
The directors of the planned distillery comprise Iain Croucher, founder and owner of North Star Spirits Ltd (twice Independent Bottler of the Year in the Scottish Whisky Awards); Ronnie Grant, owner and managing director of RB Grant Ltd, with over 25 years’ experience within the construction industry; and David Stirk, previous founder and owner of Creative Whisky Co Ltd and author of The Distilleries of Campbeltown.
Croucher commented, “Dál Riata Distillery will be much more than just a single malt whisky production facility; it will be friends and family, it will be business, it will be social and, believe us, it will be fun. A distillery is nothing without its supporters. To be able to connect with people around a table discussing our production methods, wood policy or our maturation strategy, or simply to catch up with old friends, I can only imagine will be the most magical whisky experience. The addition of this distillery to the Campbeltown region will reinforce the town’s place in the story of Scotch and Dál Riata will be a new chapter to an already incredible history.”
To mark the launch of the distillery, as well as that of South Star Spirits – a new range from the team behind North Star Spirits – three single malt bottlings have been released under the new label: Highland, Speyside and Islay, each aimed at embodying its eponymous whisky region.
Highland, 10 years old, is described as “nutty, rich and chewy, with a robustness expected of a Highland whisky”; Speyside, also 10 years old, is “fruity and floral, leading onto a salty-sweet palate of toffee and syrup”; and finally, Islay, 8 years old, “boasts those classic Islay flavour notes of smoke, sweet vanilla and sea salt”.
There are 2,200 bottles of each available worldwide; all are bottled at 48% ABV, non-chill-filtered, and natural colour. The three bottlings are now available in the UK, with the international release soon to follow.