Campbeltown was the destination of choice for 2019’s annual #BlindTastingOnTour trip, with Springbank, Glengyle, Cadenhead’s and most importantly for me, Glen Scotia all on the agenda.
We kicked things off super early as the journey to Campbeltown was estimated to take us around 7 hours, with John and Andy picking me up at 5:30am. Once on the M6 we stopped off in Carnforth to pick Brian up from the train station, continuing to head north with an obligatory breakfast stop at Tebay services.
After a long journey and many scenic roads, we finally made it to Campbeltown. Heading straight towards the Glen Scotia distillery as our Air bnb was conveniently located on the same road ?.
We were quick to get the car unloaded and ditch our stuff in the apartment in order to keep to our tight schedule; with a Glengyle tour lined up not long after our arrival.
As we headed over to Glengyle, we walked past Glen Scotia and bumped into Iain McAlister their Distillery Manager, who welcomed us into the shop to meet Hector McMurphy (Assistant Distillery Manager) and offered us our first dram of the day – a stunning distillery edition, single cask – no. 6. It was lovely to have such a warm and friendly welcome to Campbeltown, having only landed 15 minutes ago – it was already apparent that we were going to have a great trip.
Having warmed the palate with whisky and the soul with friendship, we made tracks over to Glengyle ready for our tour and insight into how their Kilkerran whisky is made. Glengyle and Springbank are both owned by the same family and located just a few minutes walk away from each other.
Glengyles got an interesting history, dating back to 1872 with closures on it’s record, not unlike many distilleries that fell into hardships during their time. When Campbeltown was threatened with losing it’s regional whisky status by the Scotch Whisky Association, a member of the Mitchell family (owners of Springbank) stepped in and opened it back up in order to preserve the regions prestigious whisky status.
After an induction into the history of the distillery (accompanied by a dram), we were shown some of the Kilkerran range before being taken round the distillery by a very friendly tour guide. The entire distilling operation takes place on one level and is incredibly traditional and low tech. Once distilled and filled into casks, the newly made spirit is laid to rest in the Springbank Warehouses.
The distillery site is really interesting with Springbank just a stone’s throw away and a new warehouse that is under construction to keep up with their increased production. We all admired the lovely little Church tower which is visible through the window in the stone wall – this may be familiar if you’ve seen a Kilkerran label.
Next up on our busy schedule was the W.M. Cadenheads Warehouse tasting. We returned to the shop where we had left off for the Glengyle tour and were greeted by a chap called Donald.
Donald lead us down to Warehouse 9 with a large crowd of other punters. This was my first experience of a Dunnage Warehouse and what a sensation it was…. the vast amount of casks sat around, the aromas that hit you as you enter the dark, sort of mystical warehouse.
The warehouse was full of casks, from a variety of distilleries, with a row of chosen casks lined up at the front. After an introduction to the history of Cadenheads, Donald commenced his de-bunging of the selected casks and started us off strong with a 19 year old Bunnahabhain!
After enjoying around 6 or 7 drams in the warehouse (I’d lost count by this point), the tasting concluded and it was time for me and the rest of the #BlindTastingOnTour gang to make our way over to the famous Cadenhead’s shop.
The Cadenhead’s shop is only a short walk away from Glengyle and the warehouses and is home to the renowned “cage”. The cage is sporadically filled with bottles of goodies and anyone can ask to browse and purchase from it. We missed out during our visit as the other punters on our Warehouse tasting had beat us to the post and cleaned the cage out before the tasting.
Having had a great first day in Campbeltown – we headed over to the nearest Indian to fill our whisky soaked stomachs with curry before heading back to the apartment to hit the hay ready for the main event the following day.
Check back soon to see my post on our second day in Campbeltown.