Campbeltown Distilleries

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Location: Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotlandmap
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A brief history of 19th Century Distilleries in Campbeltown, Scotland

Distilling whiskey in Kintyre, Scotland goes way back. In 1591 the first reference to Campbeltown whisky is recorded in writing.

By 1601 Campbeltown was a center for illegal stills and whiskey smuggling. [1]

In 1823 the Excise Act was passed, which sanctioned the distilling of whisky in return for a license fee and a set payment per gallon of proof spirit. This led to the rise of a very profitable distillery industry.

Campbeltown had several features making it an ideal location for distilling whiskey.

Campbeltown Harbor
  • Harbor Campbeltown has a deep water harbor which allowed both for easy transport of grain into Campbeltown and exporting the whisky out of Campbeltown. With the rise of steamboats whiskey could be transported from Campbeltown to Glasgow in only 9 hours.
Barley drying
  • Barley farms near by grew the grain to produce the whiskey.
Campbeltown Peat
  • Peat Campbeltown had a large supply of peat which is used in the malting and gives Scotch its distinctive flavor. It was also used for heating the stills.
Distillery Workers
  • Employees Farming was not always sustainable and Campbeltown had a large supply of workers available.

The Mitchells, Greenlees, and Colvilles were the best known and most successful distillers during the heyday of Campbeltown distilleries.

At one point there were thirty distilleries in Campbeltown which was known as the Whiskey Capital of the World”.

By 1891 Whiskey had become so profitable Campbeltown with a then population of just 1,969 was said to be the richest town per capita in Britain.

By the 1920s many distilleries began cutting corners to satisfy the ever-growing demand which lowered the quality. The coming of the railroad diminished their sea advantage. Prohibition in the United States reduced demand. Most of the distilleries closed. By 1934 only Springbank and Glen Scotia were left in Campbeltown.

Distilleries in Campbeltown

This is not an exhaustive list.


Founded by Peter Stewart & Co. Continued by James Johnstone under same name. [2]


Founded by Lamb, Colvill & Co. It had an annual output of 97,000 gallons. In 1924 it was taken over by Duncan MacCallum. In 1926 he gave the site to the town council after not being able to sell the place. They turned into a housing area named Park Square. [3]


Built by John Ross. In 1887 James Greenlees and his brother William bought shares in it. It had an annual output of 40,000 gallons. [4]

It closed in 1896. In 1971 two of the buildings were purchased by Mitchell and Co. One is used as a warehouse and another as a bottling plant for Springbank which produces A whisky called Longrow. [5]


Established by McMurchy, Ralston & Co. the original owners were Alexander and Hugh Greenlees, maltsters; James Ryburn, baker; John Colvill, saddler and Robert McMurchy. In 1840 it was owned by Colvill & Greenlees. It had an annual output of 96,000 gallons.

It closed in 1919 and in 1924 it was converted to a creamery. [6]


Original partners: David Colville, writer and banker, John Colville, malster, father of the latter; Ralph Langlands, merchant; Charles Colvill, cartwright and Daniel Greenlees. Robert Armour installed the stills. [7] In 1838 John McMurchy became a partner.

A housing area named Parliament Place was completed on the site in 1838.


The original partners were Matthew and Daniel Greenlees and Archie Colville.

In 1845 Archibald Colville left and Samuel Greenlees took his place. [8][9] It had an annual output of 192, 000 gallons with a capacity of 259,000 gallons.


1825-1921 Founded by Beith and Company, later owned by John Ross. It was on Broad Street, on the opposite side of Dalaruan distillery. It had an annual output of 67, 000 gallons. The land is now used as Municipal Housing.


Built by Archibald Mitchell and his brother Hugh at the head of Longrow. It’s annual output was 70,000 gallons. [10]


Founded by John McTaggert. [11]


Built by William McKersie. His sons William and James took it over when he died. Its annual output was 85,000 gallons. It closed in 1920 and was demolished in 1927. [12]


Founded by Peter Reid and David Colville. It had an annual output of 112,000 gallons. In 2005 it became a housing area.


Licensed to John Colvill, Beith & Co. in 1827 but built in 1830. It was the smallest distillery in Campbeltown. It included a small spirit store. It’s output was 30,000 gallons.

From 1852, Springside was operated by the Colville family who would distil there for three generations.

After 1926, Springside’s buildings became Co-op storage, garages, stables and later a Scottish Hydro-Electric depot.[13]


Founded by Templeton, Fulton & Co., who continued at least until 1837. The original partners were Robert Templeton, farmer, West Drumore; William Templeton, distiller (Robert’s brother); John McMillan, saddler, Campbeltown, and Mary Mitchell, widow of Robert Fulton, merchant in Campbeltown. The company went bankrupt and was sold in 1847.


Built by Alexander Wylie.


Built by the brothers Charles and Robert Johnston who sold it in 1867 to William McKersie. It was taken over by his sons William Mitchell McKersie and John McKersie.[14][15]


David Anderson, James Armour, and Jessie Miller. The original partners were David Anderson, merchant; James Armour, maltster. It was the first distillery to advertise in a local paper in 1921. It’s annual output was 70,000 gallons.

In 1844 the partnership dissolved and in 1850 the new partners were James Armour again; Hugh Ferguson, baker and John Kerr Orr, a commission agent from Glasgow. [16]


Argyll Distillery Warehouse, built 1890

Founded by John Colville and Robert Greenlees. It was on Longrow Street, on the North Side of town. It had an annual output of 40,000 gallons. It was chiefly sold in Glasgow and England.

The building was sold in 1929 to Craig Brothers who converted it into a garage. [17]

Distilleries Still Producing In Campbeltown


Springbank Still

Established in 1828 by the Mitchell family on the site where Archibald Mitchell had previously operated an illegal still. It was the 14th licensed distillery in Campbeltown.

In 1837 his sons John and William took over.

In 1872 the brothers who were also farmers got into a dispute over sheep and William left the businesses to found Glenglye. [18]

In 1897 John’s son, Alexander joined the company.

Glen Scotia


Glen Scotia Distiller

Founded by in 1832 by John Galbraith and James Stewart (Stewart, Galbraith & Co.) , it was first known simply as “Scotia”. Duncan MacCallum purchased it in 1891. After his death in 1932, it was acquired by the Bloch Brothers. Now owned by Lomond Distillery Co. Ltd.[19]



Glengyle Distillery

Founded by William Mitchell after he left Springbrook. It closed in 1925. The buildings were purchased by J&A. Mitchell in 2000 and in 2004 it began distilling again.



  1. Springbank Our Story
  2. Caledonian
  3. Kinloch
  5. Distilleries of Campbeltown
  6. Burnside Distillery
  7. Lost Distilleries
  8. Hazelburn Distillery
  9. Hazelburn Distllery Wikipedia
  10. Lost Distilleries of Campbeltown
  11. Inion
  12. Distilleries of Campbeltown
  13. Springside
  14. Harpers Directory and Manual Harper Trade Journals., 1920. pg. 327
  15. Lost Distilleries
  16. Lost Distilleries of Campbeltown
  17. Argyll
  18. Frank McHardy, Frank McHardy taking us through the whisky history of Campbeltown and Mitchell's Glengyle Distillery
  19. Glen Scotia

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Well done, Joelle! Lots of interesting information here.
posted by Amy (Crawford) Gilpin