Before ending this eventful trip to Campbeltown for the day and taking part in tours of both Glen Scotia and Springbank, I had to complete the Trio of distilleries currently active within the region by visiting the Glengyle Distillery. Now the Glengyle distillery is what I’d call an old new distillery, to which I’ll give you a little history to why I call it that. It’s because the Glengyle Distillery was founded 1872 however after being closed and reopening a couple of times throughout the late 1800’s to early 1900s it eventually closed its doors in 1925 and ceasing production whisky with all remaining stocks being sold at auction. Come the year 2000 a new company by the name of Mitchell’s Glengyle Limited purchased the building after two prior companies failing before. Another reason the distillery was reopened (to what I’ve heard) is because the region Campbeltown was going to lose its status as a whisky producing region as this required three working distilleries and as its condition was well maintains it would do the job whilst’ also making sure Campbeltown wouldn’t lose its historic identity as a whisky region.
Now we got through the history you’ll be up to date with Glengyle distillery but you’ll probably be wondering why name the whisky Kilkerran? as that’s not the distilleries name. The reason(s) behind this and there is two, is because one there is a blended Scotch whisky with the name Glengyle and the second reason is a legality issue is because the Loch Lomond Group who own Glen Scotia own the rights for the name. Actually now you’ll be completely knowledgeable with the Glengyle distillery. Whilst I’m giving you the history I may as well cover the logo so, the logo on the bottle was inspired through a hole in the brick wall where the cathedral in the background lines up between two bars which I managed to replicate quite well (the perfectionist in me).
The tickets for the tour were purchased from the Cadenhead shop down the road and were purchased along with the Springbank Tour for £10 which is a great price if you ask me. If you missed my post on the Springbank Distillery tour then be sure to check it out. This tour took place from 3.30pm as it was a continuation from the Springbank Tour which was first as you can’t currently just do the Glengyle Distillery by itself. As we walked through the Springbank Distillery yard towards the back where the Glengyle distillery is located we came to an area which had the Glengyle logo on the wall. We walked around the building and come to a stop where learnt about the inspiration behind the logo and went through all the information which I covered above.
The tour started outside the large doors of the Glengyle distillery and as soon as you walk inside you get a sense of the size of this distillery, it’s not large like some others in the region and spread out but compact and neatly fitted together within this small L shaped building. The immediate eye catching feature is the Washback’s of which Glengyle have 4 all made from Scandinavian Boat Skin Larch similar to the Springbank Distillery which is rather costly however I heard a continuous dripping noise which caught my attention over the tour guide speaking and located it coming from the second Washback as it was damaged, as soon as the tour guide saw this he explained that the Glengyle Distillery is only in operation for 6 weeks a year. I was flabbergasted to hear this, as I expected more than just 6 weeks which is why the Washback is damaged as without operation it would shrink and with water it would maintain its shape however if not drained would cause water damage like it did with that one.
We were guided to the first part of the tour which was to the Milling machine, this is where we learnt that almost all the components from this distillery came together from other distilleries, so the milling machine came from Craigellachie unlike the Porteus back in the Springbank Distillery. After we worked our way upstairs to the Mash Tun which was one of the more modern Mash Tuns I’d seen, so I popped my head inside for a peak to see the interior.
Next we walked moved over to the wash backs which at Glengyle they have 4 however Wash back number 3 had been changed rather recently due to a leakage. The capacity of the wash backs here can hold 30,000 litres. The tour guide also re-mentioned that as it’s only in operation for 6 weeks the wash backs do have to be filled with water in order to prevent them from shrinking. I found this quite a sad sign that this distillery is producing products that are received very well my many people including its ‘Work In Progress’ range but as its limited to only 6 weeks a year it seem like not many people around the work will be able to discover its range as many things will be limited.
The tour at the Distillery finally concluded with a look at the two stills customised for this distillery and the style it produces. As production wasn’t in place we also got to have a look into the stills before have a look at the Spirit Safe where we learnt about the cuts of the spirit of the Heads, Heart and Tails.
From here we headed back to the Cadenhead’s Shop where we were give two complimentary drams and two miniatures which are distillery exclusives for tour visits. As for what would I recommend from the shop here well firstly I would say glassware and finding a Glengyle Kilkerran glass is very difficult. Next up in terms of the whisky well as the distillery casks are seasonal so it’s down to personal preference and the immediate thing that caught my eye was the Kilkerran 8 Year Old Cask Strength as it would complete my two Kilkerran collection so it went immediately on the counter as an impulsive purchase. If you don’t like to carry around to many bottles then I would also recommend the pin badge which was £2.50, this is because it works as a great memento from the tour.
Overall the tour for Glengyle is really nice and a unique experience and well worth the tour price for both Springbank and Glengyle, however the one thing which I felt it lacked, was atmosphere and my one wish for the distillery would be for more use of it. As I like the whiskies they’re producing but it felt something was missing which I’ve seen in other distilleries. But aside from that if you do get down to Campbeltown make sure to go on the tour with Glengyle included as its something not to be missed. I’m looking forward to future expressions from this distillery, including its ‘Work In Progress’ range.