KINLOCHKILKERRAN & THE SPRINGBANK WHISKY DINNER
Today was our first trip to Campbeltown, home of Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle distilleries. Cambeltown was once the beating heart of Scotch whisky production with almost thirty whisky distilleries operating in the area, now there are just three. One such lost distillery was our namesake, Kinloch distillery, which operated for 103 years until it closed in 1926; one of many distillery closures in Campbeltown at that time. Interestingly, Campbeltown was originally named Kinlochkilkerran and there are a few references to our family name in the town including, Kinloch Road, Kinloch Park and as we discovered today, Kinloch Bar!
But first stop was the Glen Scotia distillery for their open day. I managed to book us a place on the first dunnage tasting of the day. For those who are not aware, a dunnage, is a traditional earthen floor warehouse where whisky barrels or casks are stored for aging. The dunnage where this particular tasting took place was a fantastic location, filled with the sweet musty smell of sleeping whisky casks. Our hosts were Glen Scotia Distillery Manager, Iain McAlister and Michael Henry, Master Blender for Loch Lomond Malts, the parent company of Glen Scotia distillery.
We sampled three Glen Scotia whiskies, decanted straight from the cask to our glass. I interviewed Michael and Iain and will go into more detail at another time, but the whiskies we tasted were a 2000 first-fill bourbon cask, 2006 first-fill bourbon cask, 1989 refill sherry cask and a 2008 first-fill Oloroso peated cask. For me, the 29 year old Glen Scotia was the best of a very good bunch.
After the dunnage tasting, we left Glen Scotia and walked about 30 seconds down the road to the Kinloch Bar. There was no way we were visiting a town with a bar named after us and not visiting it. We were greeted by the lovely bar manager, Andrea, and enjoy a few laughs over a pint of John Smith. Not long after, the owner came in and upon learning of our names and winning personalities, gave us a free beer and Dad one of the staff t-shirts.
We left our bar and kept walking down the street to where the Kinloch distillery once stood. The only original building still standing is now a pub called the Fiddlers. It’s a shame all that remains of the distillery is just a single building, but at least there is something still there. Kinloch distillery used to produce a Scottish Cream whisky; I have never seen it in the flesh or tried it, but I would love to one day.
We finished the day by returning to Glen Scotia for a tour of the distillery but later in the evening, I had the pleasure of attending the Springbank Campbeltown Malts Festival Dinner. This exclusive dinner is held in a unique location within the distillery, this year on one of the malting floors, and is put on by the distillery staff for the biggest of Springbank fans. As is tradition, at the beginning of the evening three casks were rolled out and guests were invited to taste each and vote on their favourite. The cask with the most votes would be bottled exclusively for the dinner guests as a parting gift. This year the casks were three Longrow expressions, a 2007 Sauterne cask at 57.3% (my favourite), a 2004 rum cask finished at 56.2% and 2000 sherry cask at 47.3% which was bottled on the night.
Tomorrow is the Springbank open day and we have three whisky tastings booked.