Campbeltown was once a booming ‘whisky city’, but now has just three working distilleries. One of them, Glengyle Distillery has both a long and short history. It was originally founded in Campbeltown back in 1872 but lasted only until 1925 when a great slump in the towns whisky industry saw many distilleries closed. There were over 30 distilleries producing at one time but by 1935 only Springbank and Glen Scotia remained in operation.
Most of the closed distilleries are unfamiliar to today’s whisky drinkers… Ardlussa, Argyll, Ballegreggan, Benmore, Burnside, Caledonian, Campbeltown, Dalaruan, Dalintober, Glen Nevis, Glenside, Kinloch, Kintyre, Lochhead, Lochruan, Meadowburn and Riechlachan. However, a few carry some significance, like Hazelburn and Longrow for example, both now single malts produced at Springbank. Then there’s Glengyle…
Glengyle lay dormant for decades until it was bought over in 2000 by J & A Mitchell, owners of Springbank. Springbank Distillery has been owned by the same family since it’s birth in 1828 and the current chairman, Hedley G. Wright, is the great, great grandson of founder, Archibald Mitchell. What’s more, Hedley is also the great, great nephew of William Mitchell, the man who originally created Glengyle Distillery. That means there’s been a family link between the two distilleries right from the start. Glengyle was refurbished, refitted and made ready to produce malt whisky in 2004 – 79 years after the last spirit was produced there.
J & A Mitchell are to be praised for many things. Not only do they produce some fantastic whisky, they also remain a huge employer in the local area and take pride in investing in the town. By obtaining Glengyle, they not only provided more employment prospects but also secured Campbeltown’s status as a whisky region, as some felt it unreasonable that a single town with only two distilleries should be considered a region. By obtaining Glengyle and producing a new single malt they have perhaps secured the future of Campbeltown as a whisky region in its own right.
The whisky produced at Glengyle is released under the name of Kilkerran as there is already a Blended Malt on the market bearing the Glengyle name. Over the last few years several expressions were released under the title of ‘Work in Progress’ in order to give people a glimpse into the progression of the whisky. However, all of them were simply leading up to this moment, here in 2016, when the first ever Kilkerran 12 year old came onto the market.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 18 / 20. 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: 18.5 / 20. 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: 9 / 10. 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.
Overall: 45.5 / 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.