"Having long been possessed with an ardent desire to see the Distilleries of Scotland...", Alfred Barnard, 1885

"O Thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink", from Scotch Drink, by Robert Burns

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Albyn Distillery, Campbeltown

Barnard’s description of this distillery is one of the shortest in his book.  It feels from the style of this report that he didn’t tour round the site and was instead given information by the manager, but he does provide some detail on the volume of the main vessels.

Albyn was opened in either 1830 or 1837 (there are conflicting records on this) and was the most isolated of all the distilleries in Campbeltown, situated just off the main road north of crowded the town centre and beside the town gas works.  This isolation did provide a lovely view of “Bengoillean” though.

The distillery brought in all its peat from the Hebrides rather than using the local peat beds.  Three pot stills are described with sizes suggesting that triple-distillation may have been the way here.  The smallest was just 580 gallons (2,635 litres) although there were two others that were smaller in Campbeltown, at Scotia and Springside.  Barnard describes the whisky as “Highland Malt”, one of only two he does not describe as Campbeltown Malt, the other being Benmore as “pure Malt”.

The owners for its entire production life were the McKersie family who also owned Lochruan for 50 years (being the new owners who extended and improved that distillery from 1867).  Distillation ceased in 1920 and the company went into liquidation in 1927, selling the distillery buildings the following year.

It is often reported that a Jaeger clothing factory was later built on the distillery site but comparing old maps suggests that this was on the site of warehouses constructed well after the original distillery.  The factory shop may have been on the old distillery land but Jaeger closed in 2001 and was demolished in 2005.  The actual distillery site is now part waste ground and part new housing.  Sometime in the late 19th century a bowling green was established on the land between Albyn and Hazelburn distilleries and is still there and well used today.