The first recorded reference to whisky production at Campbeltown traces to 1591. It’s remote coastal location made it an ideal smuggling centre and the illegal production of whisky, then also referred to as ‘Uisge Beatha’, Gaelic for ‘water of life’ is rife. By Napoleonic times the small town of Campbeltown had 22, now legal distilleries in full production, with Springbank joining the roster in 1828. By 1891 with a population of just 1,969 people, Campbeltown was reputedly the richest town per head of capita in the UK such was the thirst for it’s malt whisky
As you might have suspected however, there is a sentence in this potted history that begins with the word “then”…… The ‘then’ moment came in the 1920’s when some of the Campbeltown distilleries began cutting corners to meet demand for whisky, resulting in blenders turning their back on Campbeltown and looking elsewhere for consistently better malt. This supply-side issue ran into the demand-side depression at the end of the decade, creating a perfect whisky storm. One by one, these distilleries began to close. Production never really returned to it’s heyday, even if some distilleries limped on. The epicentre of whisky production had shifted, never to return.
The ‘stills’ at the Springbank distillery
The second blow was delivered in the early 1980’s. A change in consumer tastes and another recession saw Springbank just about struggle through with full production only resuming in 1989. Today is one of the oldest family-run and owned distilleries in Scotland. It also boasts the added distinction of being the only distillery in Scotland to carry out the entire whisky production process, including the traditional floor malting, maturation and bottling, on its premises. Springbank produces three distinct types of single malt Scotch whisky which includes Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn.
A tasting table awaits
There are a range of tours available which offer visitors the chance to view the facilities and distilling process first hand. The distillery also has a tasting room in Campbeltown where visitors can sample distillery’s superb whiskies and a shop where they can purchase a bottle to take home. The price varies according to the quantity, and more importantly, the quality of samples you choose to tackle!