Kintyre is a wild and remote Argyll peninsula that’s packed with spirit, from its fascinating heritage to its vibrant music scene. With a wild Atlantic coast, miles of sandy beaches and huge tracts ancient forest, it’s an awe- inspiring place to visit. And to top it all off, Kintyre produces some of Scotland’s best whisky – and some rather delicious gin too. Isn’t it time you tasted the spirit of Kintyre? Here’s how!
At the southern end of Kintyre sits Campbeltown. The town used to be known as ‘the ‘whisky capital of the world’ as it was once home to more than 30 distilleries. Today there are just three remaining - Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle's Kilkerran. However, they each produce world-class whiskies that are known for their bold, smoky and briny characteristics. It’s these unique tastes, combined with the town’s whisky heritage, that means Campbeltown is classified as one of Scotland’s official whisky regions.
To experience the spirit of Kintyre, take a tour of one of these historic distilleries. A tour of the traditional Springbank Distillery is unforgettable. Founded in 1828 on the site of Archibald Mitchell's illicit still, it is now in the hands of his great, great, great, grandson, Hedley G. Wright. You can see the full production process, from floor malting to maturation and bottling. The tours are extremely informative, with a number to choose from. Enjoy a few drams in the tasting room or opt for the Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting, where you can sample a selection of the finest Cadenhead whiskies hand drawn from the cask in one of Springbank’s traditional warehouses.
On the combined Springbank and Mitchell’s Glengyle Tour, you can visit J&A Mitchell & Co’s two Campbeltown distilleries. Mitchell’s Kilkerran (Glengyle) Distillery originally operated in Campbeltown from 1872 to 1925 and was brought back to life in 2004 by Springbank Distillery. As well as learning about the distilling processes used to make Springbank, Hazelburn, Longrow and Kilkerran whisky, you’ll have the opportunity to compare the differences between old and new by looking at the historic Springbank site and modern Glengyle site.
And finally, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Glen Scotia, one of the smallest whisky distilleries in Scotland. The distillery was founded in 1832, and still retains much of its original design. Check out the fermenters, the stillroom and the dunnage warehouse dating from the 1830s. Again, there are a few different tours to choose from. With the Dunnage Tasting Tour you get a grand tour of Glen Scotia finishing with a tasting session in the Dunnage warehouse.
Even taking a stroll through Campbeltown itself will give you an insight into the spirit of Kintyre. Some of the whisky distillery tours include a guided walk through Campbeltown, and you’ll get tantalising glimpses of the town’s whisky past, from faded signs to old buildings. Or how about popping into the Ardsheil Hotel Whisky Bar? Pull up a stool at the bar and choose from over 700 malts! You’ll also discover a fine selection of small batch Scottish gins, including Kintyre’s very own Kintyre Gin.
This Kintyre spirit is made on the east coast at the Beinn an Tuirc Distillery at Torrisdale Castle Estate. The copper still, lovingly named Big Don, is powered by a hydro-electric scheme and fed by spring water from the hill. The gin is made with 12 botanicals, many of which are foraged from the surrounding estate. You can drop into the distillery shop, which is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am – 4pm, or take a tour. Tours take place on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2pm. The tour lasts about an hour and you’ll learn about the story of Kintyre Gin and the origins of the distillery. The tour culminates in a gin and tonic served in the tasting room.
You can experience the spirit of Kintyre in all sorts of other exciting ways, from the fantastic surfing beaches of the Atlantic west coast to the fascinating sites connected with St Columba at Southend. Find out more about things to see and do in Kintyre & Gigha.