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8 years old
59.3 % INFO        
Date distilled Dec 89
Date bottled May 98
Society cask No. code 27.43
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
'No blushing bride'.

12 years old
46 % INFO       
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

12 years old
46 %
Distilled 1978
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

15 years old
46 %      
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

21 years old
46 %      
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

12 years old
46 %
Distilled july 1979
Bottled January 1992
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

46 %        
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd.
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

10 years old
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd. Campbeltown

8 years old
61.1 %      

Cask Strenght
Sherrywood matured
Distilled November 1985
Bottled July 1994
No additives
No chill filtration
No colouring
Wm. Cadenhead, 32 Unionstreet, Campbeltown

18 years old
43 %      
Distilled 17.12.75
Cask No. 3596
Bottled 9.94
300 bottles
Van Wees, Holland

31 years old
52.0 %     INFO      
Distilled Feb 66
Bottled Oct 97
Matured in Oak Bourbon Casks
Cask No. 1966
489 Genummerde flessen
J. & A. Michell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

11 years old
43 %      
Distilled 10/3/89
Bottled 9/5/2000
Cask No. 104
Genummerde flessen
The Ultimate Whisky Company N.L.

16 years old

Vintage Single Campbeltown Malt Whisky
Distilled June 1979
Bottled Spring 1995
The Quaich Society
1000 bottles Springbank Distillery

SPRINGBANK   8 years old 46 %      
Distilled November 1991
Bottled February 2000
CaskRef: MM 1829
Cask Type: Refill Sherry
Not Chill Filtered
Not Coloured
Murray McDavid Ltd, Glasgow and London

31 years old
46 %  
Distilled February 1967
Bottled October 1998
CaskRef: MM 1315
Cask Type: Fresh Bourbon
Not Chill Filtered
Not Coloured
Murray McDavid Ltd, Glasgow and London

9 years old
46 %     
Distilled December 1989
Bottled April 1999
Cask Ref: M M 1828
Cask Type: Bourbon
Not Chill Filtered
Not Coloured
Murray McDavid Ltd, Glasgow and London

7 years old
The Spirit of the year 2000

Distilled June 1992
Bottled September 1999
1000 bottles
Soil Association Organic Standard
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd for Da Mhile

15 years old
46 %   INFO
Distilled by J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

5 years old
45 %

Cask No. 169
Bottled 10/02
Non - Chillfiltered
Signatory Vintage, Edinburgh

10 years old
57 %  INFO   
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd, Campbeltown

12 years old

Cask type: Hogshead Barrels
Distilled December 1991
Bottled February 2004
Outturn 5986 Bottles
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

12 years old
54,6 %      

Distilled 1989
Bottled April 2002
Hoghshead Barrels
Outturn 5700 Bottles
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown.

13 years old

Distilled 1989
Bottled February 2003
Port Pipes
Outturn 3120 Bottles
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown.

12 years old
46 %       
1828 - 2003 SPRINGBANK

Limited Edition
12000 Bottles
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd, Campbeltown.

12 years old
54,7 % INFO        
Date distilled December 1989
Date bottled August 2002
Society Cask No. code 27.49
Outturn 269 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
'A boat's engine room'.

1969 INFO
34 years old
56,7 %
Single Campbeltown Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled 12.2.69
Bottled 18.4.03
Matured in a Refill Butt
Butt No. 266
494  Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd,

over 29 years old 53,4 %
MILROYS's Natural Cask Strenght
Distilled 1965
Bottled 1994
Milroy's London
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

60 %
Distilled in Scotland by traditional methods
from copper pot stills bottled with no
artificial colouring, filtering or additives
Bottled 1999
35 cl bottle
Wm. Cadenhead, Campbeltown, Argyll

25 years old
46 %    
Limited Edition
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd.
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

11 years old
56.2 % INFO    
Date distilled Dec 79
Date bottled Sep 91
Society Cask No. code 27.13
1000 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh

27 years old
2.8 % INFO        
Date distilled Feb 65
Date bottled Mar 92
Society Cask No. code 27.21
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh

27 years old
57.9 % INFO     
Date distilled 1965
Date bottled Jan 93
Society Cask No. code 27.22
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh

28 years old
46 %
Distilled 3rd December 1974
Bottled 7th June 2003
Cask No. 2283
330 Genummerde flessen
Import klassischer Produkte:
Hanseatische Weinhandelsgesellschaft Bremen
J. & A. Mitchell & Company Ltd, Distillers
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

28 years old
46 %
Distilled 11th October 1974
Cask No. 1777
Bottled 7th June 2003
246 Genummerde flessen
Import klassischer Produkte:
Hanseatische Weinhandelsgesellschaft Bremen
J. & A Mitchell & Company Ltd, Distillers
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

14 years old
55.1 %   INFO
Date Distilled Dec 89
Date Bottled Sep 04
Society Cask code 27.53
Outturn 300 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
'Peppered strawberries'.

35 years old

Cask Strenght Single Malt
Date Distilled: 05.1967
Cask No: 1943
Date Bottled: 11.2002
Fons et Origo
Numbered Bottles
214 Bottles
Duncan Taylor & Co, Huntly, Aberdeenshire

16 years old
52,7 %      INFO     
Date distilled December 1989
Date bottled May 06
Society Cask No. code 27.62
Outturn 295 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
"A fisherman's dram"

Aged 14 years
46 % INFO        
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Campbeltown Region
Unique Whiskies of Distinction
Fons et Origo
Distilled 1993
Bottled 2007
Non-Chill Filtered, Non Colouring
Duncan Taylor & Co, Ltd, Huntly, Aberdeenshire

Aged THIRTEEN Years  
57,3 %
Distillery region: Campbeltown
Individual Cask Bottling
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Date Distilled: 07.05.1993
Cask Type: Sherry
Cask Number: 155
Date Bottled: 15.05.2006
Un - Chill Filtered
Bottled at Cask Strenght
Number of Bottles: 258
Specially Selected and Bottled for Potstill - Austria
Dewar Rattray

Aged 12 years  
57.0 % INFO       
Distilled May 1996
Cask type: refill Hogshead / ex Bourbon

Society Single Cask No. 27.74
1 of only 193 bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults,
Leith, Edinburgh
"Stripped down"

Aged 11 years
59,0 %   INFO   
Society Single Cask No. 27.70
1983 - 2008

Distilled June 1997
Cask type Refill barrel / Ex Bourbon
Outturn 237 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
'Banoffee pie and sweet apples'

9  years old   
58 %     

Distilled: October 1996
Cask Type: 7 years in Refill Bourbon /
2 years in fresh Marsala

Bottled: August 2006
Outturn: 7740 Bottles
Not Chill Filtered
No Colouring
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd, Distillers
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

Aged 12 years
59 %   INFO       
Cask Type: Refill Hogshead
1 of only 292 bottles
Society cask No: 27.75
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults,
Leith, Edinburgh
"Premier league dram"

16 years old   
46 %       
SINGLE  1 9 9 2  MALT
American Oak
Drawn from cask no. 71

Unchillfiltered - Uncoloured
Berry Bros & Rudd, St. James's Street, London

55,3 %  
VINTAGE 2 0 0 1
Not Chill Filtered
Free of artificial Colouring
Distilled & Bottled by J. &  A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,

Aged 18 years  
46 %
Distilled & Bottled by J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd

11  Years old   
55.1 %        

11 Years in Madeira Wood

Distilled  June 1997
Bottled January 2009
Outturn: 9090 Bottles
Distilled & Bottled by J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,

12 years old  
54,4 %
J.   &  A.  MITCHELL's
Cask type: 9 years in Refill Bourbon Casks
3 years in Fresh Claret Casks
Distilled: May 1997

Bottled: February 2010
Outturn: 9360 Bottles
Distilled & Bottled by J. & A. Mitrchell & Co, Ltd,

Aged  12  years  
58,5 %       
Batch 2

Campbeltown Single Malt
scotch Whisky
Distilled & Bottled by
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd, Campbeltown

Aged 12 years  
55.3 %   
Free of artificial colouring,
also  it is not chill filtered
Distilled & Bottled by
J. & A. Mitchell & Co. Ltd, Campbeltown

49,4 %   
Distilled Nov. 2001       
No. of Bottles 9000
Bottled January 2012
Distillery Bottled
Not chill filtered
No added colouring
J. & A. Mitchell & Co.Ltd.
Springbank Distillery. Campbeltown

Aged  21 years   
46 %  
Not chill filtered
No added colouring
Distillery Bottled
Distilled by J. & A. Mitchell & Co. Ltd

Aged  13 years  
57.2 % INFO:  
Date Distilled: 31st May 1998       
Cask Type: Refill Gorda / ex Sherry     
Society Single Cask: 27.96
Outturn 792 Bottles        
1 of 792 bottles  
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society  
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh        
Distinctive character and happy contradictions
12 years old  
52,7 %  
Distilled April 2000    
Cask type: 6 years in refill Bourbon Casks
6 years in Fresh Calvados Casks
Bottled: October 2012      
Outturn: 9420 Bottles         
Selected by Gavin M. Lachlan       
Distillery Manager
J. & A. Mitchell & Co. Ltd   
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown

Aged 12 years  
53,1 %
Free of artificial colouring
Not chill filtered
Distilled & Bottled by J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,

9 years old  
54.7 %      

Single malt Scotch Whisky
Cask Type:      
4 years in Refill Bourbon Casks
5 years in Fresh Gaja Barolo Casks

Distilled: February 2004
Bottled: October 2013
Outturn: 11000 Bottles
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd.
Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown
Aged 12 years
52.2 %
Distilled & Bottled by
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,

Aged  12 years  
50.3 %
Distilled & Bottled by
J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd,

Aged  16 years
56 %
Society Single Cask: Code 27.107
Distilled: 31st May 1998

Cask Type: Refill Gorda / ex Sherry
Outturn: One of Only 759 Bottles
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
"To the Manor born"


Aged 12 years  
54.3 %
Est. 1828
Free of artificial colouring
Not Chill Filtered
Distilled & Bottled
By J. &  A.  Mitchell & Co, Ltd

Aged 16 years  
58.3 %  
Date Distilled:31st May  1998
Cask Type: Refill Gorda / ex Sherry

Outturn: One of Only 738 Bottles
Society Single Cask: CODE: 2 7. 1 0 9
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
"Guns on the grouse moor"

Established 1828
Aged 12 years
53.8 %   
Campbeltown Single Malt
Scotch Whisky
Distilled & Bottled by
J. & A. Mitchell & Co. LTD

Established 1828
Campbeltown Single Malt
Scotch Whisky
Aged 13 years
46 %        
Sherry Cask Matured
1 of 9000 Bottles
No Chill Filtration
No Colouring
Distilled & Bottled by
J. & A. Mitchell & Co. Ltd

9 years
57.1 %       
Distilled: November 2007
Bottled: May 2017
1125 Bottles
Selected for
Springbank Society Members by
Findlay Ross General Manager

Established 1828
Aged  12 years
56.3 %
Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled by J. & A. Mitchell & Co. LTD, Campbeltown

Campbeltown, Argyll. Eigenaar: J. & A. Mitchell & Co, Ltd.

Springbank is gesticht in 1828 door een zekere Reid, die in financiële moeilijkheden kwam in 1837 en de distilleerderij verkocht aan Archibald Mitchell,schoonfamilie van Reid.

is een heel traditioneel werkende distilleerderij, het gehele produktieproces vindt plaats in eigen regie. Springbank mout zelf, met een onderbreking van twintig jaar (1970 - 1990)
men eest zelf, medewerkers graven zelf de turf af en sinds kort komt de gerst ook weer uit de omgeving.

Springbank heeft drie ketels en men stookt twee en een halve maal. Men werkt ongeveer op 25 % van de kapaciteit van 750.000 liter spirit per jaar. Dit doet men om de markt voor Springbank niet negatief te beïnvloeden.

De gerst voor de whisky van Springbank wordt boven turf gedroogd gedurende zes uur, en boven hete lucht gedurende dertig uur. Het water komt van Crosshill Loch, anderhalve kilometer van de distilleerderij verwijderd.

Men heeft een eigen bottellijn, waar ook de whiskies van Cadenhead, een dochterfirma worden gebotteld. 99 % van de whisky van Springbank wordt als single malt whisky verkocht.

De tegenwoordige eigenaar is Hedley Wright, een directe mazaat van de Mitchell's. Roy Allan was de manager van Springbank gedurende veertig jaar en werd opgevolgd door John McDougall in 1986. De brouwer is Hector Gatt. De tegenwoordige manager van de distilleerderij is Frank McHardy (2000).

Springbank was gesloten van 1980 tot 1987, wegens de crisis die er toen (weer) heerste in de whiskyindustrie.Springbank overleefde toen doordat de toenmalige marketing manager Gordon Wright, enorm inteerde op de voorraden whisky en Springbank heel goed verkocht, vooral in Amerika en Japan, Springbank werd toen een cult whisky.

Er werken 37 mensen en dat is heel veel voor een distilleerderij van deze omvang. In 1987 - 1988 werd er voor het eerst weer whisky geproduceerd. Na een bouw- en verbouwperiode van achttien maanden onder de leiding van de toenmalige manager John Dougallwerd in April 1992 de mouterij weer in bedrijf genomen.

Dit was van groot belang voor de tweede malt whisky van Springbank, Longrow, waarvoor zwaarder geturfrookte gerst wordt gebruikt. Tegenwoordig wordt de turf voor Springbank gestoken op Islay. Springbankbottelt zijn whisky met 46 %. In 1995 werd 'triple'uitgebracht, Single Scottish Spirit, bedoeld als trendy drank voor in bar's in de grotere steden. Gebotteld in 35 cl flessen en met een alcohol percentage van 60 %.

De Mash tun is 3,7 ton
De vijf Wash backs zijn elk 20.000 liter.
De Wash still is 10.000 liter, de twee Spirit stills elk 6000 liter.
Springbank Specifics:
Malting: 25 tons at a time. 200 tons malted per season
Peat: 50 tons puchases each year. Comes from Tomintoul
Peating levels: Longrow 60 ppm. Springbank 15 - 20 ppm. Hazelburn unpeated.L
Water: Crosshill Loch
Mashtun: 2.55 mash (10 hour mashing cycle.

Distillation: Longrow double distillation. Springbank  2 and a half times. Hazelburn triple distillation.

Frank McHardy, manager van Springbank in 2002: 'This place could make 750.000 litres spirit a year, these days it's making 160.000 - 170.000 litres. Hang on a minute, here's a cult whisky, which could sell all it made ten times over, being run at a quarter of its capacity? When you increase volume you start competing with Glenfiddich and The Macallan, you have to have marketing butgets and you start being dragged into cut-price deals with retailers. We could double production but we'd lose our niche market and profits margins would be reduzed. That's dangerous for a firm our size. We have to make a margin. We've got 37 people working here!

1828 The Reid family, inlaws of the Mitchells founds the distillery as the fourteenth in Campbeltown

1837 The Reid family encounters financial difficulties and John and William Mitchell buy the distillery

1872 William Mitchell founded Glengyle in 1872 and when he and John parted ways, John Mitchellcontinued operating Springbank first alone and then with his son Archibald

1897 J. & A. Mitchell Company Ltd is founded.

1926 The depresssion forces the distillery to close

1933 The distillery is back in production

1960 Own maltings cease

1969 J. & A. Mitchell buys the idependent bottlerWilliam Cadenhead

1973 The first distillation of Longrow

1979 The distillery closes

1985 A 10 year old Longrow is launched as an experiment

1987 Limited production restarts

1989 Production restarts

1990 Longrow becomes a standard label

1992 Springbank takes its own maltings again

1997 First distillation of Hazelburn, a triple distilled and unpeated malt

1998 Springbank 12 years old is launched

1999 Dha Mhile 7 years old is the world's first organic single malt and is released as a limited supply of 1000 bottles in a joint venture between Springbank and JohnSavage-Onstwedder

2001 Springbank 1965 'Local barley', 36 years old and 741 bottles, is launched. Barley coal, peat and water are all obtained locally

2002 Number one in the series Wood Expressions is a 12 year old with five years on Demerara rhum casks.Next is a Longrow sherry cask 13 years old. A relaunche of the 15 years old replaces the               21 years old which problably will not peappear untill 2010

2003 50 sets of six 20 cl bottles aged 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years old are launched to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the distillery

2004 J. & A. Mitchell's main owner, Hedley Wright,opens Glengyle Distillery which has been closed sinceMarch 1925 Mitchell's Glengyle Ltd manages the distillery which sells the whisky under the
         name Kilkerran Springbank 10 years old 100 proof is launched as well as Springbank Wood Expression Bourbon, cask strenght, Longrow 14 years old, Springbank 32 years old,
          Springbank 14 years Port Wood with 2 years in Port Pipes

2005 2400 bottles of Springbank 21 years old take the market by surprise when they are released in March.The next batch will not appear until in 2011.The first version of Hazelburn 8 years old is               released 5th September. Longrow Tokaji Wood Expression is launched.

Da Mhile is Keltisch voor 2000
John Savage - Onstwedder, een van afkomst Nederlandse boer, die van 1981 tot 1986 deel uitmaakte van het biologisch - dynamisch landbouwcollectief ' De Kleine Aarde ' te Boxtel, verhuisde naar Wales en begon opnieuw. Hij leerde een Schotse vrouw kennen, trouwde en kreeg een droom, hij wilde de eerste biologisch - dynamische whisky maken.

Na een lange zwerftocht langs vele Schotse distilleerderijen vond hij Springbank bereid mee te doen.

De gehele distilleerderij werd gereinigd en in 1992 werd deze whisky geproduceerd, vijftien sherryvaten gevuld die eind 1999 zullen worden gebotteld.

'Da Mhile (pronounced da vee lay) is Gaelic for 2000. As an organic farmer it was my vision to create the first organic single malt Scotch whisky in the world.

I wanted it to be specially hand crafted, in time for the most significant New Year's celebrations in a thousend years. It was produced at the revered Springbank distillery in June 1992 and matured in sherry casks. Only Springbank could meet my exacting criteria to produce the purest malt one could ever hope to enjoy.

The whisky has been bottled without being chill filtered, a process which removes much of the flavour. There is no caramel added for colour uniformity. Da Mhile is a completely natural product and in my opinion the Millennium malt that truly is the real Uisge Beatha, 'The Water of Life".

Juli 2008
As a consequency of the continuing instability of basic raw material prices, which have
doubled within the last year, the management of J. & A. Mitchell and Company Ltd have
decided to cut back the production of new spirit at theirSpringbank and Glengyle Distilleries
until prices settle.

The state of the materials market will be kept under continuous review

The opportunity will be taken to carry out necessary maintenance work and create the in-
creased warehousing accommodation required for future development

In the short term there will however, regrettably, be a few staff redundancies

There will be no impact on the availability of bottles Springbank or the Kilkerran whisky
as the company has ample stocks of young maturing whisky which will enable it to con-
tinue supplying its home and export markets as normal

J. & A. Mitchell and Company Ltd

21 September 2009
This week was very busy at Springbank distillery: 60 tonnes of local barley, type
Westminster and grown by local farmer David Young at Langy farm on the south

The moisture content is arount 16 - 17 %

Stuart Robertson, manager and staff have been kept drying the barley and putting it
into storage for at least 3 months

During May and June 2010 the barley will be used forSpringbank, Longrow and Hazelburn

Springbank had to take hard decisions and decided to cut back production due to the high
cost of utilities and barley the last years


The Royal Burg  of Campbeltown is situated at the south end of the Kintyre Peninsula,
That long strip of Argyll which divides the Firth of Clyde from the Atlantic Ocean and
from where the back gardens of Irekand can be distinguished with binoculars on any
clear washing day.

In A.D. 503 at Dalruadhain, later called Ceann Loch Cille Chairian and finally Campbeltown,
Fergus established the parliament of the minute Celtic kingdom of the Scots of which he
was the first King.

It could hardly have been anticipated that he was to found a monarchy whose domains
were extend in time to cover all present - day  Scotland, Great Britain and eventually
large protions of the then  unknown world: Contemprary successors of Fergus are
crowned whilst seated on that same Stone of Destiny from which he ruled his unruly
little territories.

St. Columba lived here or three years teaching  Christianity for the first time on Scottish
Soil before he sailed to the Isle of Iona 1.400 years ago to within a few months.

It was from Campbeltown that Flora MacDonald sailed with her family for American in
1774, after having played her historic part in the closing chapters of the '45 rebellion
of "Bonnie Prince Charles".

In Campbeltown Exciseman Robert Burns wooed his "Sweet Highland Mary" at a time
when the small burgh was a centre of Scotch Whisky distilling.

The Scots have distilled Whisky here from the earliest times, for the drink is a Celtic
one and the skill of manufacture was a common property of the Western Highlander
and the Irishman.

The first written account of Whisky from this area is however, quite late , in 1591, and
it is in the records of the "Pursmaister"of the Thane (or Laird) of Cawdor: "In Taylone
(a village about 15 miles from Campbeltown) in September of 1591, " deliuret to
Makconchie Stronechormichels man same day that brocht the aquavytie vis viij d".

Shortly afterwards occurred the most important event in the history of Scotch Whisky:
The Statues of the Icolmkill ( 1609) : in order to combat the ill  effects of the behavior
of the Western Highlanders of imported Wines and Spirits, only the consumtion of
home made drink was permitted.

This resulted in giving Scotch Whisky such a boost that its fame spread to the rest of
Scotland as also did the traditions for making it, In the same year the first license
to produce Whisky coomercially in Campbeltown was awarded to John Boyll

Private distilling was not seriously tampered with till 1779 when the capacity of private
stills was reduced by law from ten gallons to two gallions. Two years later private dis -
tilling was declared illegal. Licensed commercial distilling was then subjected to increa-
sing taxation which discriminated against taxation which discriminated against the
Campbeltown distillers compared with theit east Highland and Lowland competitors
so that in 1797 legal distilling was not worth the trouble: this was the date of the last
license in Campbeltown for 20 years. It is as well to add that in the following three years
292 illicit stills were seized and destroyed by the authorities in Campbeltown.

Having killed their golden goose the Westminster Gouvernment tried several negative
an unsuccessful attempts at artificial respiration and it was only when they reduced the
duty to 9s.41/2d per gallon that the first legal distillery in campbeltown was restarted;
a further drastic reduction in duty in 1823 made legal distilling competive against
"smuggling" and then began the golden days of the Campbeltown distillers.

A  list of the Campbeltown distilleries :

1817  - 1924         Campbeltown Distillery
1823  - 1926         Kinloch Distillery
1823 - 1851          Caledonian Distillery
1824 - 1886          Meadow Distillery
1824 - 1896          Longrow Distillery
1824 - 1928          Lochh (h)ead Distillery
1825 - 1922          Dalaruan Distillery
1825 - 1925          Hazelburn Distillery
1825 - 1924          Burnside Distillery
1825 - 1934          Rieclachan Distillery
1825 - 1921          Kintyre Distillery
1826 - 1850          Union Distillery
1827 - 1852          Highland Distillery
1828 - 1952          Glenramskill Distillery
1828 - 1844          Argyll Distillery
1828                      Springbank Distillery
1828  - 1834         Broombrae Distillery
1830 -  1927         Albyn Distillery
1830  - 1926         Springside Distillery
1830  - 1860         West Highland Distillery
1830  - 1852         Lochside Distillery
1832  - 1925         Dalintober Distillery
1832 -                    Scotia Distillery
1834 - 1837          Thistle / Mountain Dew Distillery
1834 - 1926          Glenside Distillery
1835 - 1837          Mossfield Distillery
1834 - 1847          Drumore Distillery
1835 - 1860          Tober an Righ / Toberanrigh Distillery
1835 - 1925          Lochruan Distillery
1844 - 1923          Argyll Distillery
                               this is another distillery as the Argyll
                               Distillery founded in 1828
1868  - 1927         Benmore Distillery
1872  - 1925         Glengyle Distillery
1877  - 1923         Glen Nevis Distillery
1879  - 1923         Ardlussa Distillery

The Campbeltown distilleries were quickly able to corner the Glasgow market, a city with
which there had been a good smuggling trade, and thereby ensure the pre - eminence of
Campbeltown amongst the other  distilling areas of Scotland.

In 1897, 1.810,226 gallons of Whisky were made in Campbeltown alone. Success, however,
contained  the seeds of destruction and startling change overtook the trade in the earlier
portion of the present century.

There are probably several causes of the ensuing decline of the Campbeltown distilleries.

Speculators bought large quantities of Whisky causing overproduction which not only led
to their own ruin but also the ruin of several distillers (is there a present day lesson here ?)

Futhermore, it is feared that during the times of plenty some distillers, confident of their
Glasgow monopoly" became careless and produced inferior Spirit which they filled into
poor - quality casks. The result was that Whiskies once known by such phrases as "The
Hector of the West"and "The Deepest Bourdon of the Choir" gained the description of
" Stinking Fish ".

It is true that the distilleries which made such poor Spirit were the first to fail but in their
fall they dragged almost the whole Campbeltown trade with them.

The economic depression of the 1920s and "30s reduced the drinking capacity of Glasgow
so greatly as to emphasise overpoweringly the over production of previous years.

The East and Central Highland distillers were quick to make an entry into Glasgow and by
early  1930s had almost completely displaced the Campbeltown giants.

Only one distillery managed to survive the economic depression and the indiscriminate
Condemnation of Campbeltown Whisky: another distillery, after lying dormant for some
years, was able to restart trading under new ownership.

These two distilleries Springbank and Scotia ( renamed Glen Scotia are the only two  
survivors of the 34 built in former years.

Although many of the warehouses of the old distilleries are still in use for various purposes
there is nothing left of the plant and little or nothing of the distillery buildings themselves,
only here and there the crumbling shell of a still - houise or tun - room reminds the
Campbeltown people of their century - long boom.

Springbank and Glen Scotia have succeeded in overcoming the former Campbeltown stigma
and are appreciated and used by most blending houses, large and small. The even, centre -
of - the - palate flavor which made the campbeltown so famous is the early days is
consideredby some to be indispensable in knitting together the many components of a
modern blend. It remains to be seen wheter over the years the Campbeltown will againresume
its dominance of the whisky trade.

Distillery is situated in the heart of Campbeltown and the premises to - day,
comprise not only the original buildings of 1828, but also parts of the extinct distilleries
of Longrow, Riechlachan, , Union, Springside and Argyll.

It was originally the fourteenth distillery to be built in the golden days of the early 19th
century  but is now the senior and larger of the two remaining distilleries.

It is in the nearly unique position of being the only distillery left in Scotland which is ex -
clusively  owned and controlled by the original family of distillers.


The story of the Mitchell family is in a way a history of recent Campbeltown distilling
and it is impossible to give an account of SpringbankDistillery without mentioning
several of the other distilleries of old Campbeltown.

Local records suggest that the Mitchell family came to Argyll with the second wave of
Lowland settlement about 1660. Many if the family were maltsters and, in the pre
Jacobite days , it must be assumedthat they were also distillers.

Some Mitchells were a little more colouful, for instanceJames Mitchell, a weaver in
Campbeltown, was a rebel in the Marquis of Argyle's rising in support of Monmouth in
1685, but his error was counterbalanced by other members of the family, James and
Archibald Mitchell, another Archibald and his sonRobert, who in 1692, are recorded
as being Fencible Men of Argyle: in other words they were members of the Home
Guard of those times.

The history of the Springbank Distillery can be conveniently begun with Archibald Mitchell
( 1734 - 1818 ) a farmer near Campbeltown and the great - great grandfather of the dis -
tillery's present  managing director. Archibald's sister married Hugh Ferguson, a maltster
so it is not surprising that Archibald (11) traded as a maltster, the business of his uncle/
father - in - law, Archibald ( 11 )'s malt barns were on the site of the future Spring -
bank Distillery and were indeed to become  the original malting of the distillery.

Although it is known from the private ledger of a local coppersmith that Archibald operated
a still for Whisky, he never troubled to put himself on the right side of the law by taking out a
licence; it was left to his sons, Hugh, Archibald ( 111 )John and William and one of his daughters,
Mary, to bring themselves  within the law.

Archibald ( 111 )  was one of the original partners ofRiechlachlan Distillery ( 1825 - 1935 ) where
he was later joined by his brother Hugh.

Springbank Distillery was built on the site of Archibald ( 111 ) 's illegal distillery in 1828, by the Reid
Family who were the inlaws of the Mitchells but, as theReids soon found themselves in financial
troubles , John and Willam Mitchell bought the property in 1837 and thereby  restored their father's
distillery to the direct line of descent. The new and legal  form of J. and W. Mitchell made their first
sale on 14th November 1837, to one Isebela Brown of Campbeltown, who bought 24 gallons at 8s,
5d per gallon. This price included the government duty; the present price of a proof gallon of new
Springbank Whisky is 12 pound 7s, 5d, inclusively duty! Not all the new  firm's  customers were to
disappear into obscurity, like Isebel Brown during the first year of trading, on 8th October 1838, John
Walker of Kilmarnock, bought 112 gallons at 8s, 8d per gallon and all the world knows that this
John Walker 1838 is "still going strong". Samuel Dowof Glasgow, who made an earlier purchase on                                                                                                                                                                           
12th March 1838 is another well - known name in the trade that has survived through the years.

However, trouble lay ahead, for John and William, who were farmers as well as distillers, quarreled
violently, not about Whisky, but about sheep. Williamleft Springbank to join his brothers at                                                                                                                                                                             
Riechlachan Distillery, so John took his own son into partnership and thus changed the firm's name
to J. and A. Mitchell which it still remains. It should be noticed that William was not content to rest
in partnership with his Riechlachan brothers for, in 1872he started  Glengyle Distillery as sole pro -
prietor. Neither , for that mather, did John remain satisfied with Springbank and, in 1851, he was
one of three partners that bought out Tober an righDistillery which had been build by his cousin
Alexander Wylie in 1835.

The peat used to dry the malt is cut within a few miles of the distillery by the company itself.
Springbank can manufacture all its malt requirements and is one of the few distilleries in
Scotland that can do this. The dried malt is stored in metal bins before being ground into
A course flour or "grist ". The grist is mashed  with hot water in a large iron and copper tun
of convential type and the resulting sweet solution, the "wort "is strained  away from the
undissolved malt husks, the "draff "and is cooled by passing through a paraflow heat exchanger and
run into the fermenting vessels the "wash - backs ". The unwanted  draff
is a high quality cattle food and is sold entirely to local farmers. The actual wash - backs are
made of Scottish "boat skin "larch wood, for it is the belief of the proprietors that a steel wash - back,
although less expensive to install and maintain gives a distinct taint to the final Whisky, in an
analogous manner to the distinctive tone given to a violon by the use of steel strings. In the wash -
backs yeast is added to the  worts which then ferment to become a
sour Beer - like liquid called wash.

From this stage onwards operations are acutely watched by officers of H.M. Customs and
Exise to ensure that no alcohol goes into consumption without payment of duty.

The wash is pumped into a large copper still which is heated underneath and also simultaneously,
by an internal coil through which superheated steam is passed.                                                                                                                                                                               
This method of heating a wash - still is the traditional Campbeltown technique and has been
used at Springbank for as long as memory and records indicate; it is thought that no dis -
tilleries outside Campbeltown use this method. The hot vapours that are driven off the
wash are condensed again by passing them trough a long coiled "worm" of copper tube
which is cooled with running water. When all the alcohol has been driven off the wash,
distillation is stopped and the alcohol free "pot ale"  remaining in the still is run to waste

The collected distillate, known as the low Wines is carefully divided into two portions, one
of which is distilled again in a small "doubling still" to give "feints"which are mixed with the                                                                                                                                                                                  
remaining low Wines and run into a third still where the final distillation takes place. A
large portion of the Spirit condensed in the final distillation is rejected and it is only an
accurately controlled "middle cut" that is run into the Spirit store for filling the customers

In spite of mechanization that has taken place in recent years all the vital processes in the
manufacture of Springbank Whisky have remained unaltered so theactual quantity of
Whisky produced to - day is only slightly greater than at the beginning of the century.

The water used for malting, mashing and cooling all comes from the Crosshill Loch which
Lies on the outskirts of "Whisky City" about one mile from the distillery.

Article written in the early nineteen sixties by Mr. Hedley G. Wright, the head of the family                                                                                                                                                                                          
firm which owns the distillery. He is directly descended from the Mitchells.

2008 Springbank Distillers Ltd,
Longrow, Campbeltown                                      

Frank McHardy director of production at Springbankdistillery:

A specific variety from a single farm within 8 miles radius of Springbank is selected each

Examples of the barley types grown were in:
2006     Bere
2007     Heart
2008     Optic
2009     Westminster

2010     Belgravia
2012    We have some 20 acres of Bere barley being grown for us on a farm at Machrihanish
              Which was in the early part of the 19e century used to be owned and farmed by a member of the Mitchell family, the founders of Springbank distillery

Springbank was closed between 1982 and 1988

The first reference to Campbeltown whisky is recorded in writing
Campbeltown becomes a whisky smuggling centre and the illegal production of whisky, then also referred to as ‘Uisge Beatha’, Gaelic for 'water of life’ is rife
The Mitchell family, founders of Springbank, come to Campbeltown as settlers from the lowlands. Some family members were already maltsters
22 legal distilleries are now in operation in the Campbeltown area
Archibald Mitchell becomes partner at Rieclachan Distillery and is later joined by his brother, Hugh
Springbank is built on the site of the previously illicit still used by Archibald Mitchell and Springbank Distillery is officially founded, becoming the 14th licensed distillery in Campbeltown
As demand for Campbeltown malt increases,Archibald’s sister, Mary Mitchell, builds Drumore Distillery
Brothers John and William Mitchell, Archibald’s sons,take ownership of Springbank. Later, John takes his son into the business, forming the company J & A Mitchell
John Walker of Kilmarnock recognises the burgeoning profile of Springbank whisky and purchases 118 gallons
With demand for Campbeltown malts appearing insatiable, John’s brother William continues the family venture into the whisky trade and Glengyle Distillery is founded
Campbeltown, with a then population of just 1,969 was reputed to be the richest town in Britain per capita
The turn of the century brings a change of whisky preferences and Springbank alter their production accordingly to make lighter whisky that was not as heavily peated, using coal rather than peat to dry malt
Some of the Campbeltown distilleries begin cutting corners to meet demand for whisky, resulting in blenders turning their back on Campbeltown and looking elsewhere for consistently better malt. One by one, these distilleries begin to close
Suffering from the recession at the beginning of the 20th century, Glengyle Distillery, after being sold byWilliam Mitchell to another company, ceases trading
Rieclachan closes its doors, leaving only Springbank andGlen Scotia operating in the Campbeltown area
Springbank bottles a 50-year-old whisky, distilled in1919
Longrow whisky is distilled at Springbank, proving that an Islay-style single malt could be produced on the mainland
Another general downturn in the whisky business sees a wave of distilleries close across Scotland. Springbankcontinues to sell whisky, though production is sporadic at best
Regular production resumes at Springbank as demand for whisky begins to grow
Springbank Single Malt’s reputation takes off around the world. A spate of top quality bottlings are released which cement the distillery’s reputation for producing world-class whisky
Springbank Distillery’s newest whisky, Hazelburn, is first distilled
Hedley G. Wright, the current Chairman of Springbankand great-great grandson of Archibald Mitchell, buys the Glengyle Distillery buildings, bringing Glengyleback into the hands of the Mitchell family line
The rebuilt Glengyle Distillery, the first new distillery in Campbeltown in over 100 years and the first distillery built in Scotland in the 21st Century, has its first distillation run. Campbeltown is once again recognised as a distinct whisky region
In the wake of rising stocks and soaring production costs, the distillery takes a six-month break from production to allow new warehousing to be built, with the whisky-making process resuming in
Springbank sells a bottle of the 1919 50-year-old for £50,000 to a Chinese whisky collector
Today, Springbank is one of only three distilleries operating in the Campbeltown area and is the oldest independent family-owned distillery in Scotland. Learn about the place where our story begon


Written off on numerous occasions, Campbeltown's whisky heritage is still alive and increasingly vibrant. And this fascinating and distinctive area has much more to offer. adiscovers.

‘Oh, Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whisky,
Campbeltown Loch, och aye!
Oh, Campbeltown Loch, I wish you were whisky,
I would drink you dry.’
(Scottish folk song)

Campbeltown is the Scotch whisky region that refused to die. The ‘crash’ team has been on standby with defibrillator at the ready from time to time, and premature obituaries have been penned, but Scotland’s smallest malt whisky-producing area is well and truly alive – and even thriving.

But first things first. Where exactly is Campbeltown and how did it come to have its own whisky designation in the first place? It’s been described as situated at the end of the longest cul-de-sac in Scotland, and you don’t pass through the port on the way to anywhere but the Mull of Kintyre.

One of the largest towns in Argyll & Bute, it’s a three-hour drive along unforgiving roads from Glasgow. The A83 snakes down the Kintyre peninsula, with the Isle of Arran to the east and Islay to the west. Popular with golfers, and The Machrihanish Golf Club boasts one of the finest links courses in Scotland.

Campbeltown was reputedly the seat of the Scottish Parliament set up by King Fergus in 503, and the town, originally known as Kinlochkilkerran, was renamed in the 1600s by the Earl of Argyll.

Fishing became a major source of prosperity, and when the 19th century herring bonanza was at its height, as many as 600 boats worked out of the harbour, and the port boasted its own shipyard until 1980.

Illicit distillation was rife on the remote peninsula during the 18th and early 19th centuries, with more than 50 working stills. Many were provided by the Armour family of Campbeltown, with Robert Armour establishing his coppersmithing business in 1811.

The 1823 Excise Act encouraged legal distillation, and the Duke of Argyll saw that licensed whisky-making could provide employment for Campbeltown. Accordingly, he transformed Crosshill Loch into a reservoir, supplying fresh water for distilling.

A steamship service to Glasgow was another attraction for distillers, as was local coal – from the Drumlemble mine – along with peat and barley.

Between 1823 and 1844, 29 distilleries were established in Campbeltown, and although only three operate today, whisky-making has taken place on 35 sites in the borough.

When the journalist Alfred Barnard stayed in Campbeltown during 1885, researching his epic tome Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, he toured no fewer than 21 distilleries, and proclaimed Campbeltown ‘Whisky city’. Among those he inspected were Springbank, established in 1828, and Glen Scotia, founded four years later.

But boom was followed by bust and, by 1935, just Glen Scotia and Springbank were operational, with both having previously been silent for a time.

Campbeltown may be seen as the author of its own misfortunes, thanks to some unscrupulous distillers and inferior spirit. Its distinctive, peaty whiskies began to gain an undesirable reputation, referred to in some quarters as ‘stinking fish’. US Prohibition was another serious blow, as Campbeltown enjoyed a thriving trade with North America.

Another factor was the closure of the Drumlemble coal mine in 1923, while many blenders came to prefer the typically more elegant and less intense Speyside malts.  Herring and whisky had long paid wages in Campbeltown, and the rapid decline of both heralded hard times.

The Scottish Agricultural College’s Rural Scotland in Focus 2012 report recorded the town as ‘most vulnerable’ out of 90 communities surveyed. The population is around 6,000, a figure which has fallen during the past decade due to a lack of employment opportunities, especially for young people.

‘There’s always been an isolated feel to the place,’ says Glen Scotia distillery manager Iain McAlister, a native of Kintyre. ‘It’s like an island in many ways, and it will always struggle economically because of that isolation.

'There are probably no more than a dozen boats fishing out of the harbour now, but that’s the story all over Scotland. However, the town’s as buoyant as it’s been for a long time.

‘A new pontoon has been installed at the harbour this year, and it can take up to about 40 yachts, which should help the local economy, and the Royal Hotel on the waterfront has been renovated and re-opened. They’ve made a really good job of taking it a bit upmarket.’

One recent casualty, however, is the White Hart Hotel, established in 1850 and the place where Alfred Barnard rested his head between distillery visits.

But the town’s ever-popular Ardshiel Hotel, built in the 19th century by a prominent local distiller, has positioned itself as the place in Campbeltown in which to drink whisky. Winner of the Scottish Field Whisky Bar of the Year award in 2013 and 2014, the Ardshiel offers more than 700 whiskies, and no fewer than 70 from Campbeltown itself.

The renewable energy industry has provided Campbeltown with an economic lifeline, and Frank McHardy, now an independent whisky consultant but formerly manager and director of production at Springbank, notes that about 200 people work at the wind turbine factory, close to Campbeltown Airport.

Campbeltown Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) is in the process of restoring a number of historic buildings, including the Town Hall, while The Picture House, established in 1913 and the oldest continuously run, purpose-built cinema in Scotland, is also undergoing major renovations.

Campbeltown increased its quota of distilleries by one-third with the re-opening of Glengyle in 2004 after almost eight decades of silence, when it became the area’s first ‘new’ distillery for over 125 years. Like Springbank, it is owned by J & A Mitchell & Co, also proprietor of the Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop outlets.

‘I first came here in 1977 to Springbank distillery,and it was very run-down, with limited production, no working maltings and just four members of staff,’ recalls McHardy.

‘I left in 1986 to go to Bushmills in Ireland, and when I came back again a decade later, the bottling hall was employing more people, the maltings had been revived, and we redeveloped Glengyle. Overall, Mitchell’semploys around 50 people in the town.’

Springbank's production has risen, says Gavin McLachlan

Springbank’s current manager, Gavin McLachlan,takes up the story. ‘We’ve gradually stepped production up again after being silent in 2008/9. We’re making around 120,000 litres of spirit a year at Springbankand 48,000 litres at Glengyle. The split here is 80% Springbank, and 10% each Hazelburn (triple-distilled) and Longrow (heavily-peated).

‘We’ve just released our latest annual Kilkerran Work in Progress, and that’s the last one. From next year it will be a regular bottling at 12 years of age.’

Across town at Glen Scotia, a private equity company acquired the distillery (with Loch Lomond at Alexandria) last year. After decades of neglect, work had started to improve Glen Scotia before acquisition, as manager Iain McAlister explains.

‘We’d already increased annual production from 100,000 litres a year to 350,000 litres and installed new washbacks before the new owners came along. Since the change in ownership, we’ve also been improving the overall image of the place, and we opened a distillery shop this spring, with pre-booked distillery tours now available.’

The single pair of stills has been cleaned and lacquered, and shine for the first time in living memory, while a three-section warehouse has been developed, allowing single malt stock to be matured on site.

‘We’ve just launched a revised Glen Scotia line-up of three new expressions – a 15-year-old, a Double Cask, and Victoriana – which are being promoted globally, and there’s a real sense that the distillery and the whisky have got their confidence back,’ says McAlister.

For the second year running, Campbeltown has staged a whisky festival, featuring all three distilleries. ‘It’s really beneficial for the whole community,’ saysMcAlister. ‘We hope it will evolve in the future, and certainly there’s a great deal of interest, with tastings and other events fully booked up in advance.’

McHardy agrees. ‘The festival helps get the word around about Campbeltown’s whiskies and emphasises that it is still a whisky region with lots of positive things happening. It’s staged the week before the Islay Festival, so people can take part in it and then catch the ferry from Kennacraig up the coast over to Islay.’

McHardy is also central to another initiative, the Springbank Whisky School, where he is cast in the role of headmaster. He explains: ‘It’s made up of seven one-week sessions during May and June. There are a maximum of six people per week, staying in a local B & B.

‘They start work on Monday at 8am and do a bit of everything in the distillery for four days – totally hands-on. The school is over-subscribed and we’re already taking bookings for next year. People have been known to come back and do it two and three times.’

Meanwhile, Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop is back in its original home on Union Street, close to Springbank distillery, after a period of exile in a less prominent location.

It has been extended and refurbished, with a tasting room area, and a line-up of in-store single malt casks from which customers can fill bottles.

With Glen Scotia’s revitalised range of whiskies, Springbank’s ongoing release programme, plus the eagerly awaited launch of Kilkerran 12 Year Old, there is more to be positive about on the Campbeltown whisky front than there has been for a very long time.

Clearly, some of that positivity is shared by the old port in general. Campbeltown may not be on the way to anywhere, but it’s definitely not down and out. The obituary writers may have a long wait.

Springbank is the only distillery in Scotland to malt, distill, mature and bottle on the same site. It manages to do this while operating a highly complex distillation regime, which creates three different styles.

The equipment at Springbank is resolutely old-style: an old Boby mill, an open-top cast-iron mash tun, wooden washbacks made from boatskin larch; and three stills, direct fire on one of them, a worm tub on another.

The malt is handled in three ways to produce three contrasting whiskies – Springbank itself is medium-peated, Longrow is heavily peated, while Hazelburn has no peat at all. Ferments are very long – in excess of 100 hours; with low-gravities which both produces a low-strength wash and high levels of esters. This fruity base is then distilled in three different ways, depending on the style being produced.

Springbank is partially triple-distilled. The wash still (which is direct fired) works as normal producing low wines, the strongest portion of which are directed to the spirit still charger. The remainder is redistilled in the intermediate still (which has a worm tub) and put into the feints receiver along with the heads and tails from the spirit still distillation.

This mix makes up 80% of the final charge, with the strong portion of low wines from the wash still making up the remaining 20%.

Unsurprisingly, the result is a highly complex new make that is collected at an average strength of 71-72% – lightly smoky, oily, fruity, delicately fragrant yet powerful.

Longrow is heavier and smokier – the malted barley obviously playing a significant part, but so does distillation in the direct-fired wash still and second distillation in the spirit still which has the worm tub. It is collected at 68%, lower than Springbank.

Hazelburn undergoes standard triple distillation and is collected at between 74-76% abv.

Maturation for all three is in a mix of casks – as well as the standard ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry and refill, other types [wine and rum] and sizes [60 litre ‘rundlets' and 50 litre ‘kilderkins’] are used.


Continuity is the watchword at Springbank. This distillery has been in the ownership of the Mitchell family and its ancestors since 1837. Indeed, as its founder William Reid was related to the Mitchells by marriage you could argue that they were there from the word go.

It was in 1828 that Reid took out a licence, but there was a rich – and extensive – heritage of illicit distillation in the Kintyre Peninsula. Indeed, thanks to the Still Books of Campbeltown plumber and coppersmith, Robert Armour, we can accurately chart how many there were. The books show that Armour made 400 sma’ stills from 1811-1817, bringing him an income of £350 per year, and the surnames Reid and Mitchellappear in his detailed accounts.

Like many smugglers, Reid didn’t survive long once he joined the legitimate trade and in 1837 he sold to his in-laws John and William Mitchell. The latter brother left in 1872 to join his other two brothers atRiechlachan, at which point John’s son Alexanderjoined Springbank [hence the J & A Mitchell still on the label].

The 19th and early 20th centuries were a boom time for Campbeltown. Thanks to a fast sea crossing to Glasgow and a small coal seam at nearby Machrihanish it became Scotland’s whisky capital. At some point or other there were 35 distilleries operational. The style tended to be medium- to heavy-bodied, with some smokiness and an oily texture (though each distillery would work its own variation on this theme).

The distilling trade, however, collapsed in the 1920s. All of Scotland was affected with 50 distilleries closing, but Campbeltown was disproportionately affected, with only Springbank, Glen Scotia and Hazelburn surviving the Great Purge. By the 1960s only it and Glen Scotiawere left.

That is not to say it was not immune to the vagaries of the whisky trade. Despite beginning to build a reputation as a single malt. Springbank was mothballed between 1979 to 1987. On reopening, owner Hedley Wright [John Mitchell’s great-great grandson] made the momentous decision to no longer sell to blenders, but develop single malt sales. Maltings were re-opened in 1992 and while the combination of managing limited stocks – the result of the mothballed period and somewhat over-eager sales of what was left – it has taken a number of years to get the Springbank range fully balanced, which now it is. It remains, deservedly, one of Scotland’s cult malt whiskies and a template for many new distillers.

William Reid acquires a license for Springbankdistillery in Campbeltown
Reid sells the distillery to his in-laws, John and William Mitchell
William Mitchell leaves the business and John's son, Alexander, joins Springbank
J&A Mitchell is founded
The distillery closes
Springbank returns to production
Springbank closes its maltings
J&A Mitchell purchases independent bottler Cadenhead
Springbank is mothballed once more until 1987, when a limited run is started
The distillery reinstates its maltings
Springbank begins its first production run of the malt that will become Hazelburn
The world's first organic single malt, Dha Mhile, is launched


The eyes of the whisky world turn to one of its most isolated outposts this week, when the three remaining Campbeltown distilleries join forces to hold the fourth Campbeltown Malts Festival. As ‘Whisky City’ enjoys a new phase of renewal and optimism.

Spirit of revival: Springbank has endured Campbeltown’s fluctuating fortunes
‘Wandering around Campbeltown is an exercise in distillery archaeology. Tantalising glimpses of old sites remain – a cracked and faded painted sign, the shape of the windows on a block of flats, the incongruous sight of a supermarket with a pagoda roof. The fragility of the whisky industry is evident and, for all the thick red sandstone walls that remain, there are infinitely more that have gone.’

The words of the inimitable Michael Jackson, written more than a decade ago in Whisky, have the air of obituary or requiem. But even then, the scent of fresh hope was in the air: Glengyle had recently been resurrected, and stalwart Springbank and Glen Scotia remained in operation, reminders of Campbeltown’s proud past.

It’s tempting to characterise the story of Campbeltown and whisky as one of rise and fall, but the truth is far more complicated: more rise, fall, rise, fall and rise again. It’s a story that permeates the town: its buildings, its historic prosperity, the waters that all but surround it.

Let’s start not at the beginning, but with Alfred Barnard. The author of The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom visited Campbeltown in 1885, when it was at or near the peak of its powers; from this high vantage point, we can look both back and forward.

Modern Campbeltown is a place of three distilleries but, when Barnard came to call, there were no fewer than 21, all but one of them within the town, collectively producing almost 2m gallons of spirit a year. Barnard and his travelling companions booked into the town’s White Hart Hotel for two weeks to complete their researches.

The picture that emerges is one of prosperity, and not just in whisky: the latter days of the 19th-century herring boom were still in evidence, from the ground thick with fishing nets laid out to dry, to the ‘many hardy fish women, with sunburnt faces, selling fresh herrings which glistened like silver in the sunshine’. The harbour’s waters, meanwhile, were ‘teeming with life and hundreds of sail were riding safely at anchor on its ample bosom’.

Distillery accounts ring with investment and modernity. Hazelburn is capable of producing 250,000 gallons of spirit a year on its own; Dalintober’s warehouses are being extended; there’s a new kiln furnace and what is billed as the largest malt barn in Campbeltown at Benmore.

Dalaruan, Kinloch and Scotia have all recently been enlarged, while Glenside has undergone many improvements. Barely 40 years later, only (Glen) Scotia would remain, but for the moment all was optimism.

Campbeltown then was to Scotch whisky what Epernay was to Champagne, the street of Longrow its Avenue de Champagne, although with more humble architecture. The villas on the east side of the bay bear testament to the wealth that whisky brought and, just a few years after Barnard’s stay, Campbeltown was said to have the highest income per capita in the UK.

Before we try to assess what went wrong, let’s look at what went right for the place Barnard variously described as ‘Whisky City’, ‘Whisky Land’ and ‘Spiritual Town’ (in more than one sense: there were many places of worship, and the Sabbath was strictly observed).

Location was the chief factor at play. Proximity to Ireland brought expertise in distillation, while the fertile fields of Kintyre, the waters of the nearby Crosshill Loch and coal from the Drumlemble mine near Machrihanish provided the raw materials.

Long before Barnard’s visit, Campbeltown was a hotbed of illicit distillation, with an estimated 31 illegal stills operating by the end of the 18th century. As in many other parts of Scotland, the 1823 Excise Act simply turned an illegal whisky boom into a legal one.

But chief among these attributes was Campbeltown’s maritime location, and its superlative natural harbour. Now thought of as isolated at the end of an apparently never-ending stretch of the A83 road, the town was then anything but, thanks mainly to the age of the steamship.

As Campbeltown’s whisky industry grew, steam brought in the peat from the Hebrides and the barley from Ireland and south-west Scotland – even, at one point, from the Baltic; and steam took the whisky back out again, to the fast-growing market of Glasgow and Clydeside, to London and the world beyond. Steam also sent out émigrés, who went in search of a better life and took word of Campbeltown’s whiskies to the brave new world of North America.

But it would be wrong to think of the 19th century as one long upward curve for Campbeltown and whisky: the slump of the early Victorian years led to the closure of more than a dozen distilleries in the town – a precursor of the more dramatic cull that was to come almost a century later.

Not everyone thrived in the late Victorian days either. Meadowburn was closed by 1886 – but had presumably ceased production by 1885, as Barnard doesn’t mention it – and Longrow shut down a decade later.

But the rest of Campbeltown’s redoubtable roster of stills ticked on well into the 20th century, even surviving the enforced closures of the First World War – before almost complete collapse shortly afterwards.

No fewer than 17 distilleries closed in the 1920s and, by the end of the decade, only Rieclachan was still distilling. By 1934, the twin survivors of Springbankand Glen Scotia had restarted production – but Rieclachan had shut for good.

There are almost as many theories to explain Campbeltown’s demise as there are accounts of those days. Most likely it was a combination of the general malaise afflicting the entire Scotch whisky industry with circumstances particular to Campbeltown: in negative image, a perfect storm similar to the one that raised the town up in the first place.

Take your pick from these factors: the closure of Drumlemble coal mine in 1923; post-WWI duty hikes; the teeming effluent that turned Campbeltown Loch into a filthy ecological nightmare; Prohibition.

Then there’s the whisky itself. Famously smoky, oily and pungent, this was now out of step with the blender’s call for something altogether lighter – which may be one reason why Springbank, reputedly fresher than many of its neighbours, survived the cull.

Declining sales led to lower prices, so distillers began to cut corners to save money, running the stills harder and creating a vicious circle of falling demand, value and quality.

In another seminal work published in 1930, Whisky, Aeneas MacDonald laments the passing out of fashion of Campbeltown, listing 10 active distilleries, but observing that, until recently, 17 had been in operation.

It’s a cruel twist that, by the time of the book’s publication, MacDonald’s information was out of date; of the 10 distilleries he names, only Springbank,(Glen) Scotia and Rieclachan were still going (and two of those had temporarily ceased production).

On the liquid, MacDonald has this to say, at once giving a clue to Campbeltown whisky’s unique character and outlining one possible reason for its fall from grace:

‘The Campbeltowns are the double basses of the whisky orchestra. They are potent, full-bodied, pungent whiskies, with a flavour that is not to the liking of everyone… Yet, if the full repertoire of whisky is not to be irremediably impoverished the Campbeltowns must remain.’

Luckily, remain they did, even if by the very skin of their teeth. Those lone sentinels of Springbank and Glen Scotia soldiered on for several more decades, lately supplemented by a restored Glengyle – not to mention the ghosts of Hazelburn and Longrow,which live on in the respectively triple-distilled and heavily peated variants produced by Springbank.

While it may never again scale the heights of its late Victorian boom, Campbeltown’s whisky industry is vibrant once more, as this week’s Campbeltown Malts Festival will celebrate.

The event includes a series of tastings, masterclasses and dinners, plus opportunities to walk to Crosshill Loch and to discover the town’s distilling history in all its rich diversity. A history that, for all the rollercoaster contortions of the past 200 years and more, simply refuses to die

Springbank is the only distillery in Scotland to malt, distil, mature and bottle on the same site. It manages to do this while operating a highly complex distillation regime, which creates three different styles.

The equipment at Springbank is resolutely old-style: an old Boby mill, an open-top cast-iron mash tun, wooden washbacks made from boatskin larch; and three stills, direct fire on one of them, a worm tub on another.

The malt is handled in three ways to produce three contrasting whiskies Springbank itself is medium-peated, Longrow is heavily peated, while Hazelburn has no peat at all.long – in excess of 100 hours; with low-gravities which both produces a low-strength wash and high levels of esters. This fruity base is then distilled in three different ways, depending on the styleFerments are very being produced.

Springbank is partially triple-distilled. The wash still (which is direct fired) works as normal producing low wines, the strongest portion of which are directed to the spirit still charger. The remainder is redistilled in the intermediate still (which has a worm tub) and put into the feints receiver along with the heads and tails from the spirit still distillation.

This mix makes up 80% of the final charge, with the strong portion of low wines from the wash still making up the remaining 20%.

Unsurprisingly, the result is a highly complex new make that is collected at an average strength of 71-72% – lightly smoky, oily, fruity, delicately fragrant yet powerful.

Longrow is heavier and smokier – the malted barley obviously playing a significant part, but so does distillation in the direct-fired wash still and second distillation in the spirit still which has the worm tub. It is collected at 68%, lower than Springbank.

Hazelburn undergoes standard triple distillation and is collected at between 74-76% abv.

Maturation for all three is in a mix of casks – as well as the standard ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry and refill, other types [wine and rum] and sizes [60 litre ‘rundlets' and 50 litre ‘kilderkins’] are used

Wash still and No2 low wines - Shell and tube, No1 low wines still - worm tank
Wash still fire and steam kettles, spirit stills steam coils
Springbank 8-10ppm, Hazelburn 0ppm, Longrow 50ppm
Scottish origin barley local to Campleton or East coast.
Cast iron
Racking and Dunnage
Boatskin larch
Crosshill Loch

William Cadenhead

Independent whisky bottler Cadenhead’s was founded in 1842 at 47 Netherkirkgate in Aberdeen, a site the company traded from for more than 130 years. Today, the business is owned by J. & A. Mitchell and Co.,owner of Springbank distillery in Campbeltown. It specialises in single cask malt whiskies that are neither chill-filtered nor coloured, though trades in rum and gin as well.

It was 1842 when George Duncan founded a vintner and distilling agency in Aberdeen. The business flourished under his ownership and a decade later, he invited his brother-in-law, William Cadenhead, to join him.

Duncan suffered a short illness in 1858 and passed away, leaving Cadenhead to take over the business. He swiftly changed the company name to his own.Cadenhead was by no means an expert vintner, but he was known to have a head for business due to working overseas in a yarn company. He was also heavily involved in supporting the local community and was a noted poet.

Cadenhead died in 1904 and the business fell under the wing of his nephew, Robert Duthie, who developed the company into the independent whisky bottling business we recognise today. In one change of philosophy Duthie developed the idea of vatting the variety of malts he had access to rather than simply bottling single malt whiskies as his uncle had. In doing so he expanded the range to include brands such asThe Heilanman and the de luxe Putachieside. To promote the company, he advertised on theatre curtains, busses and concert programmes using the slogan, ‘By Test the Best’.

When Duthie died in 1931 (at the height of The Great Depression he was knocked down by a tram car on his way to visit his bank manager), he was a bachelor, so the company passed onto his two sisters. Unfortunately, they had no knowledge of the trade but were determined to keep the company running, and with this in mind they handed over the day-to-day operation of the business to a long-term employee, Ann Oliver.

Oliver proved to be quite an eccentric choice with set ideas on how the company should be run and refused to change with the times or the market in whisky sales. The result of this was a warehouse full to the gunnels with whisky, rum and gin that no one knew the value of. The result was a ‘fire sale’ of spirits at the auction house of Christie’s in London in 1972, which much to everyone’s delight not only cleared the debts of the company but left a six-figure profit as well.

On Oliver’s retirement in the same year, the company was sold to J. & A. Mitchell and Co., the owner of one of Scotland’s oldest whisky distilleries, Springbank in Campbeltown.

After 130 years trading in Netherkirkgate, the company moved to Campbeltown and has been nurtured and developed under J. & A. Mitchell’s stewardship. On top of its range of non-chill-filtered and non-coloured single malt whiskies, rums and gins, the company now has shops and tasting rooms in London and Edinburgh, as well as partnerships in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark.


The Hielanman

J&A Mitchell & Company (Current owner)
Mitchell's Glengyle

Closed in:
1926 - 1933
1979 - 1987
2008 -
2009 - limited production
2010 - limited production


It may have looked legitimate to outside observers, but Robert Armour’s plumbing business in 19th-century Campbeltown was a front for one of Scotch whisky’s great black-market whisky still manufacturing operations. Armour’s activities also paved the way for the area to become the capital of the Victorian Scotch trade.

In 1811, a plumbing and coppersmithing business was established in Longrow, Campbeltown, by Robert Armour. In the years that followed, the Armour name was to become indelibly connected with the area’s burgeoning trade in illicit distillation, laying the foundations for Campbeltown’s status as the epicentre of the Victorian whisky trade.

Armour was born in Campbeltown in 1787. His ancestors had emigrated from Ayrshire in the 1650s to settle in Kintyre, and built up interests in agriculture and distilling. One of his relations, James, had been granted a licence to distil in the area in 1793, using a 40-gallon still for which he paid £15, being one-quarter of the yearly rate of £1 10s per gallon of still capacity.

He also had to find ‘sufficient Security for the further sum of Fifty Pounds Sterling to answer the payments of such Penalties as he may incur, in the terms of the Said Acts of Parliament in that case made and provided’. In around 1798, however, he fell foul of the authorities and was found guilty of illicit distillation.

All this reminds us that whisky and the law have been inextricably linked for centuries – and it was for this reason that Robert Armour became one of the great black-market stillmakers in Kintyre and Campbeltown.

The Highland Line is often touted as the only historical border between the Highland and Lowland areas of distilling activity, but in the late 18th century there was also the Intermediate District, stretching across Scotland and including Kintyre and Arran.

In 1797 the licence duty in this area was raised to £9 per gallon of still capacity – and the result was that legal distillation disappeared in Kintyre for the next 20 years. In its place, of course, illicit distillation sprang up.  

In 1811, Robert Armour moved into the full-scale, clandestine manufacture of copper still bodies, heads and worms for a large client base that stretched through Kintyre and into Arran.

Even private distillers who had previously distilled legally for their own consumption moved into the illicit trade to make a fast buck. While Armour’s premises on Longrow fronted as a legal plumbing business, to the rear the undercover business of still-making, and possibly even illicit distillation, was carried on.

The business flourished and, over the course of six years and aided by ‘a lad’, Armour turned over £2,000, producing nearly 400 stills, 53 of which were smuggled by fishermen over the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran, bringing Armour nearly £170 in income from that island alone.

All this trade needed to be accounted for, and Armourensured that every transaction was detailed in a series of jotters which only came to light among other family papers, discovered by Dr I A Glen for the Scottish School of Studies.

From these records, locations of illicit distillation in Kintyre and Arran can be pinpointed, along with the names of every still operator. Many of these stills were worked by a ‘company’ or a group of tenants acting like a syndicate.

All the Arran customers were men, but 25% of the Kintyre distillers were women, as many of the menfolk would have been primarily engaged in fishing or working the land.

A typical transaction would have amounted to around £5, utilising 30-40lbs (13-18kg) of copper for the still, head and worm, creating a still with a capacity of about 10 gallons – and many ‘companies’ operated more than one still.

The fact that Armour always used copper, rather than tin, ensured that the distillate was of much higher quality. ‘Arran Water’ in particular had an excellent reputation, gaining renown as the ‘burgundy of all the vintages’, and was widely traded in Ayrshire. Armour’sstills, if well looked-after, were also reputed to have been good for 20 years.

It was a lucrative business that made the illicit distillers cash-rich. When William Jameson of Torylinn,Arran, had a new set of distilling apparatus confiscated by the Excise on 24 August 1815 near Smerby, north of Campbeltown, while it was being smuggled, he simply returned to Armour the next day and ordered another.

Armour did, however, create a cheaper tin still for a widow. He used copper for the head and worm, and charged the lady a mere £1 15s.

His other clients represented a roll-call of Kintyre and Campbeltown families, many of whom would go on to found legal distilleries and whisky dynasties: Colville (Robert’s mother was a Colville), Ferguson, Greenlees, Harvie, Johnston, Reid, Mitchell and Galbraith, among others.

The account books also note many notorious Arran distillers, such as Daniel Cook of Bennecarigan, who had been accused of breaking an exciseman’s leg in 1807, and admitted illicit distilling during the subsequent trial. He purchased a 19lb body and 11lb worm in October 1815.

As a source of locations of illicit distillation, Armour’srecords are a treasure trove. In Campbeltown alone many stills operated ‘in plain sight’ in Lochend, Longrow, Dalinruan, Dalintober, Bolgam Street, Corbet’s Close and Parliament Close.

Further afield, Clachan, near Tarbert in north Kintyre, features, as do Machrimore and Pennyseorach in Southend. Armour also did business on the tiny island of Gigha, off the west coast of Kintyre.

On Arran, his stills were installed by the McKinnon family at Sliddery, while Western Bannen (Bennen), Corcravie (Corriecravie), Clachaig, Easter Bannen(Bennen), Torlinn (Torrylinn), Bennecargen(Bennecarigan) and Shanachy (Shannochie) are also mentioned. In all, some 21 locations can be identified on Arran alone from the accounts.

Another notorious Arran client of Armour’s was the Cook family of Margarich (Margareoch). In November 1814, John Cook purchased equipment from Armour and, six months later, his son, John Jnr, acquired a 13lb worm for £1 12s 6d. Another relative, Malkom Cook, purchased a still body in December 1811.

The first legal distillery to be erected in Campbeltown in the 19th century was Campbelton in Longrow, near Armour’s premises, in 1817 by maltster John MacTaggart and banker-distiller John Beith, whose name features in Armour’s accounts. Cannily, he had quietly maintained his illicit activities until it made sense for him to legitimise them.

Armour started a family in 1822 when his wife Mary (née Porter) bore him a son, Alexander. Daughter Isabella followed in 1828, then Elizabeth two years later, twins Mary and Robert in 1832, Agnes in 1834 and finally Margaret in 1836.

Alexander was to join his father in the firm and, by 1851, Armour was also employing Robert Jnr as one of three coppersmiths. A glut of distilleries emerged after the Excise Act of 1823 encouraged the endemic illicit trade to go legal and, between that year and 1837, some 28 new distilleries sprang up across Campbeltown.

Some of these faltered, but when Alfred Barnard visited in 1885 there were still 21 going concerns. Armour’s firm had expanded greatly with this growth, and the casual observer can still see his firm’s name on the spirit safe at Springbank distillery.

Curiously, at the time of Barnard’s visit, when excavation work was being carried out in Armour’spremises, the Campbeltown Courier reported that ‘workmen found a still vat buried pretty far in the ground’, with a hidden flue connected to the main chimney. ‘It is supposed that at one time the ground beneath the floor of the shop has been a vault where secret distilling operations were carried on,’ the report added.

Robert Armour died on 12 May 1873, aged 87, and his wife Mary followed him into Kilkerran Cemetery in 1876, aged 78. He may have started out as a mere ‘plumber’ to trade, but Armour became instrumental in the birth and maintenance of the distilling business in what became the Victorian whisky capital of Scotland.

February 2019
Campbeltown distillery Springbank has released two new single malt whiskies – a 25-year-old matured in ex-Sherry and ex-rum casks, and an 11-year-old wine cask-finished malt bottled under the distillery’s Longrow label.

Springbank 25-year-old and Longrow 11-year-old
Take your pick: Springbank’s distillation regime allows it to bottle different styles of whisky
The Springbank 25 Year Old is comprised of 60% single malt fully matured in Sherry casks and 40% whisky matured in rum casks, which were married before being bottled at 46% abv.

Said to represent ‘maturity and complexity at its best’, the whisky is described as having notes of ‘cured meat’ on the palate alongside ‘tropical fruits and muscat wine’.

Only 1,200 bottles of the Springbank 25 Year Old have been produced, priced at £370 per bottle.

The Longrow Red, an 11-year-old peated malt, was first matured for eight years in ex-Bourbon barrels before spending a further three years maturing in refill Pinot Noir barriques.

Bottled at a cask strength of 53.1% abv, the whisky is said to carry notes of ‘creamy red apples and homemade rhubarb crumble’ on the nose with ‘raspberry jam’ and ‘burnt embers’ on the palate.

A total of 9,000 bottles of Longrow Red have been created, priced at £55 each.

Both whiskies are available worldwide from today (15 February), although the release date may vary in international markets.

Springbank’s complex distillation regime allows it to produce three different styles of whisky: Hazelburn, the distillery’s unpeated malt, a medium-peated eponymous Springbank malt, and the heavily peated Longrow.

Springbank is the only distillery in Scotland to carry out 100% of the production process on-site, from malting and distilling to maturation and bottling.
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