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The Rebirth of Glengyle
Campbeltown was once home to a booming whisky industry but there are now just three working distilleries. One of them, Glengyle, has only recently returned to production after decades of silence.
Glengyle was originally founded in 1872 but ceased operation in 1925 when a great slump in the town’s whisky industry saw most of the distilleries collapse. Where once more than 30 distilleries were in operation, only Springbank and Glen Scotia remained by 1935.
The names of Campbeltown’s lost distilleries will be unfamiliar to most modern drinkers: Ardlussa, Argyll, Ballegreggan, Benmore, Burnside, Caledonian, Campbeltown, Dalaruan, Dalintober, Glen Nevis, Glenside, Kinloch, Kintyre, Lochhead, Lochruan, Meadowburn and Riechlachan. However, a couple of them remain relevant today, like Hazelburn and Longrow, both of which are now brands produced at Springbank.
Glengyle lay dormant for decades until it was bought in 2000 by J & A Mitchell, of Springbank. Springbank has been under family ownership since its foundation and current chairman, Mr Hedley G. Wright, is the great-great-grandson of distillery founder Archibald Mitchell. Archibald’s nephew William established Glengyle, adding additional relevance to the project. Following the purchase, Glengyle was refurbished and fitted with repurposed equipment. The new stills began to produce whisky in 2004, some 79 years since the last spirit was produced.
J & A Mitchell deserve credit for the way they have revived Glengyle. Without the third distillery in production in the town, there was a chance that Campbeltown could lose its designation as a whisky region in its own right. That would have been a sad end for this once great Whisky City.
The single malt produced at Glengyle is bottled under the name of Kilkerran (due to a rights issue) and a series of Work in Progress expressions have been released over the years to show the progress of the maturing spirit. However, although these releases gave an idea of what the new whisky would be like, the real test was always going to come when the first official bottling appeared. This has finally happened with the 12-year-old, bottled at 46% and available in the UK for around £35.
Smell: Some light Sherry notes at first like Raisins & Sultana’s, then giving way to Honey, Vanilla and Lemon all underlined by Salty Sea breeze and light Peat Smoke.
Taste: Quite Spicy on the palate with a luscious mouth feel. Pepper, Butterscotch, Vanilla and a touch of Sherry, Chocolate and some light Peat Smoke, albeit less than the nose.
Thoughts: A price of £35 puts this product in the middle of the entry-level category but being bottled at 46% without chill-filtering elevates it above many similar bottles. It’s minimally packaged, giving the impression that money was spent on the quality of the liquid, rather than on the cardboard it came in.
It’s well presented, well put together whisky. The malt is complex, well-balanced and just the sort of whisky I love to review. When so many new distilleries spit out three-year-old whiskies at premium price points, it’s refreshing to see Glengyle build towards this wonderful 12-year-old and keep the price sensible when it arrived. Excellent stuff, I expect big things from the Kilkerran brand going forward.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.