After me and my friend made the early morning drive from Glasgow to Campbeltown and when I say early morning, it was 6am so quite early to make the first tours of the day. As it was a week day we heard there were less tours so making all three was a must. The day was Saturday 29th July 2017 and the drive to Campbeltown was just over 3 hours long filled with scenic sights of mountains, streams and lochs whilst also getting to take in the unpredictable Scottish weather as it changes every 3-5 minutes.
Upon arriving in Campbeltown the first distillery we saw was Springbank however the distillery tour requires you to go to the Cadenhead’s shop to purchase tickets unlike other distilleries we visited. So we decided to head to Glen Scotia as the first distillery tour of the day after getting some food. As we approached Glen Scotia and walking into the gift shop to inquire the tour we found out the tour started at 11.30am and we were 10 mins late, but as I felt we made a long journey I asked the gentleman at the shop called Archie if we could join the tour and to our surprise he told us there was no-one on the tour so he could take us around. I just wanted to add that the tour was £5 which included a look at everything and also the warehouses.
Starting the tour we walked into the Malt storage Silo where we got an understanding behind the barley as you do with all distilleries but this is where we learnt about the ‘Porteus Malt Mill’ (and how the company went bust because their machines never broke down) which is used to crush the malted barley into Grist. From there we made way upstairs to the top of the Mash Tun which has a capacity of 20,000 litres and saw what Archie said was the most scientific piece of equipment in the distillery, the book which keeps all the figures. From here we followed Archie through the Stills room to the Wash backs which unlike any distillery we’ve been to use Metal Wash backs and have 6 of them.
From there we moved back to the Stills room which at this point wasn’t in production as they had a week off and not only got to see the stills but also got to look inside them and understand the coil system and really get to grips with the understanding about it being an oversized kettle. Archie also gave us a sneak peek to the condenser which I outside the distillery which many tours don’t show before making our way down to the spirit safe and then to the warehouse which was fascinating.
But before getting inside the warehouse we tried to lift the empty PX cask to understand the weight of the casks and how they have to turn them after being filled. The aroma in the air for the Glen Scotia warehouse offers a perfumery sweetness from the casks along with a slight sea breeze making you feel so comfortable just standing there. After learning more about the cask types used by Glen Scotia and walking around the warehouse we got to see first-hand look at how you open the Wooden Bung with a wooden mallet by hitting either side of the Bung hole and the Bung just pops off. So we got to nose both an ex-Bourbon and Pedro Ximinez Cask. A quick heads up for when they release this PX cask it’s going to be incredible.
After leaving the warehouse the tour concluded back at the gift shop where it all began but we got to taste a couple expressions from Glen Scotia which began with the Double Cask and were asked to guess the age of the whisky, I felt it was around 10-12 year and so did my friend but to our surprise we found out it was only 6 Years old which was shocking because it was so well rounded and had such a great balance in flavours. After we also tried the 15 Year Old, Victoriana and the Distillery Cask which is a single cask maturation in ex-Bourbon casks, all three were delicious but I couldn’t leave without picking up a bottle of the Glen Scotia 15 Year Old.
Before concluding this post I wanted to also say a massive thank you to Archie from Glen Scotia for really going through the tour in so much depth and sharing the charm of this distillery, from the production to even the manoeuvring of the casks in the warehouse. It’s a shame that many overlook this distillery when it comes to the Campbeltown region and leave them in a shadow of giant that is Springbank. Also Archie’s knowledge about the history of Campbeltown and the locations of all the closed distilleries which used to run the region is inspirational and made this distillery have a soft spot for me when it comes to whiskies from Campbeltown. If you get a chance to pay a visit to Campbeltown then I’d highly recommend you make a visit to Glen Scotia to uncover the gems which they are hiding here, as I look forward to many future products this distillery has to release.