"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

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Argyll Distillery, Campbeltown

As it was for the name Campbeltown Distillery, there were also two called Argyll in the town, although not overlapping in time.  The original Argyll, also known as McKinnon’s after its founder Duncan, was founded in 1827 but the company ceased in 1844 a few years after his death.  It was situated on Lorne Street on the south side of town and very little else is known about it.

In the same year as one closed another opened at the other end of Longrow, right beside the Hazelburn Distillery that had been established in 1825.  This new Argyll was the last to open in Campbeltown for almost 25 years until Benmore was established in 1868.  It was owned by Colvill and Greenlees, and Stirk (2005) calls it a restart of Argyll although the actual association with McKinnon’s is unclear.

When I say it opened right beside Hazelburn it was actually later contiguous with it, sharing a wall between malt barns on the Hazelburn side and warehouses for Argyll after Hazelburn had expanded sometime in the decade or so around the time of Barnard’s visit.

The distillery was entered through a neat gateway into a courtyard around which the buildings were arranged and most of the modern “improvements” appeared to be in place, whatever they were, Barnard doesn’t elaborate.  The water came from a deep well on the premises and also ‘the Loch’, which must mean the Crosshill Loch given the side of town it was on.  Argyll was a peat only distillery for malting its barley and the annual output was 40,000 gallons (182,000 litres).

Petrol Station at Argyll site
The company changed hands twice, once in 1920 and then transferred into DCL in 1923 when production ceased.  DCL dismantled the equipment and sold the buildings in 1929 to the Craig Brothers for use as a garage and petrol station alongside their other garages and depots at Glengyle and Benmore.  The site has remained as a petrol station ever since.

Barnard described the distillery location, as he did for Hazelburn, as being on Longrow Street and the report of the 1929 sale in the Campbeltown Courier lists the address as 95 Longrow (Stirk, 2005).  However, maps from as far back as 1865 and up to today show the stretch of road where they were located as Millknowe Road.  Whether this has been a map recording error or a desire by distilleries to be associated with the Longrow name we may never know.