Many of Scotland’s distilleries share a long and tumultuous history with regular changes in ownership and on again off again closures. Glen Scotia in Campbeltown however has as unsettled a past as you are likely to find. Founded in 1832 by the Stewart & Galbraith Company and originally named just ‘Scotia’, the distillery ran smoothly for 60 years before encountering problems in the early part of the 20th century.
Scotia was sold twice in quick succession, first in 1919 to Highland Malt Distilleries and then again in 1924 when it was acquired by local industrialist Duncan MacCallum who stepped in just as the distillery looked likely to close. Despite his initial success however, MacCallum was forced to close the plant just four years later, a victim of the almost total collapse of Campbeltown’s once dominant whisky industry. Brought to a halt, at least in part, thanks to the closure of a local coal mine, robbing the towns distillers of a cheap fuel source. Duncan MacCallum lost his fortune in the resulting fallout and in 1930, climbed the hill to the loch from which Scotia drew its water and drowned himself in the icy cold waters.
Following the death of the sites owner, Scotia was taken over by the Bloch Brothers blending company who added ‘Glen’ to the name and resumed production until 1954 when they sold it to the Canadian Hiram Walker group. Just one year later though the distillery had changed hands once again, this time to A. Gillies & Co, the Glasgow based blender that gave Richard Patterson, now Whyte & MacKay’s master blender and industry veteran of more than 50 years, his start in the industry.
A. Gillies & Co eventually became part of Amalgamated Distilled Products (ADP) who ran the distillery until 1980 when production ceased once again. 1989 saw yet another sale, this time to Gibson International who in turn sold in 1994 to the Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Company. Today Glen Scotia comes under the ownership of Loch Lomond Distillers, who have invested heavily in the distillery, even opening the doors to the public for the first time and instigating a rebranding of the Glen Scotia single malt. The current core range consists of Double Cask, 15 year old, Victoriana and 25 year old expressions.
As the entry level offering, the Double Cask is the most affordable of the range, retailing at just £35. Bottled at 46%, it is matured in a combination of first-fill bourbon barrels and ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry seasoned casks.
Smell: Vanilla, Toffee, Fudge, Raisins, Sultanas, Figs & Berries, Caramel and Honey. Touch of Sea Salt and Spice.
Taste: Salted Caramel & Fudge. Definite Sherry influence from the PX casks… Cinnamon, Nutmeg… Pepper and Sea Salt.
Value for Money: Retails in the UK for £35. An excellent price for a very tasty dram and the perfect introduction to the Glen Scotia range.
Glen Scotia distillery has been responsible for some of my favourite drams over the last couple of years. Both the 15 year old and Victoriana bottlings are exceptional drams and the Double Cask is another cracker that comes at a brilliant price with the sherry influence coming through stronger than one would perhaps expect from an entry level malt. Great stuff.