Campbeltown was once a booming ‘whisky city’, but now has just three working distilleries. One of them, Glengyle, has recently been reborn after decades of silence.
Glengyle was originally founded in 1872 but ceased operation in 1925 when a great slump in the towns whisky industry saw most of the distilleries collapse. Where once over 30 distilleries were producing spirit within the town, only Springbank and Glen Scotia remained in operation by 1935.
The names of Campbeltown’s lost distilleries will be unfamiliar for the most part, to the modern drinker… Ardlussa, Argyll, Ballegreggan, Benmore, Burnside, Caledonian, Campbeltown, Dalaruan, Dalintober, Glen Nevis, Glenside, Kinloch, Kintyre, Lochhead, Lochruan, Meadowburn and Riechlachan… However, a couple 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 it’s youth and current chairman, Mr Hedley G. Wright, is the great, great grandson of company founder Archibald Mitchell. Another Mitchell, William, was the man who originally created the Glengyle distillery, adding to the extensive family relevance of the project. Following the purchase, the distilery was refurbished and fitted with repurposed equipment. The new Glengyle stills began to produce whisky in 2004, some 79 years since the last spirit was produced.
The J & A Mitchell company deserve praise for the way they rescued Glengyle. Without a third distillery in production, it was beginning to seem likely that Campbeltown would lose it’s designation as a whisky region in it’s own right, which would have been a truly 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 in the years that followed the distilleries rebirth. 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 new 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.
Value for Money: Coming in at around £35 puts this right at the heart of the ‘entry-level’ market, but being bottled at 46% without chill filtering automatically elevates it above many of it’s contemporaries in my eyes. The packaging is simple and minimalist and gives the impression of a company determined to let the quality of the product speak for itself.
Score: 44 / 50.
This is very well presented, well put together whisky. It’s well balanced, characterful and affordable, just the sort of whisky I love to review and recommend. Altoghether, a very impressive first regular release from Mitchell’s Glengyle Distillery.
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