"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, 3 November 2010

Kintyre Distillery, Campbeltown

After visiting Longrow Barnard’s party continued onto Kintyre Distillery later that same day.  Kintyre was part of the same business venture as Longrow but managed to outlive that smaller venture, remaining in the name of the firm John Ross & Co until it closed many years after his passing.

Unlike Longrow, Kintyre had been built in more open ground to the north of town, beside Dalaruan and Lochead distilleries which had been built a few years before.  Highland Distillery was to its north when Kintyre was built (although it closed in 1852, but the buildings remained until at least 1921) and Benmore would later follow on its east side prompting Barnard to describe the area of Lochend as “black with Distilleries” when he visited.

Despite being built only a few years after Longrow the buildings appeared more modern and better arranged with a higher elevation providing more capacity here.  Annual output was 67,000 gallons (304,000 litres) compared to 40,000 at Longrow, with three pot stills compared to two.  Peat and blind coal were also used here and the mashing water was from “the Loch away up the hills”, although he doesn’t say which one and it may well have been from the north side of town via the lade supplying Dalaruan and Lochead.

Barnard describes the whisky as the same quality as Longrow and in one of the few tasting notes he provides he records that his party “tasted some eight years old and were highly pleased with it”.  None of your adjective laden whisky deconstructions in this book.

Housing on Kintyre Distillery site
Kintyre closed sometime between 1920 and 1922, one of the earlier casualties in that decade, and the grounds were demolished for more of the 1930s housing that appeared in the area, now known as Parliament Place.  As it was for the grounds of Dalaruan opposite, this housing was very recently demolished for a smart new estate with nothing to tell of the old place.

I mentioned a quote from Burns - “freedom an’ whisky gang thegither” - in my last post on Longrow and lo and behold I turn the page and find that Barnard uses the same quote to sign off his report on Kintyre.  This is the final line from the poem The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer which was a plea from Burns to the Scottish representatives in the UK Parliament to repeal the Scotch Distillery Act of 1786, an Act which had significantly increased the duty payable on spirit exported to England.

Burns begins this poem with a parody on lines from Milton’s Paradise Lost – “Dearest of distillation! last and best – How art thou lost!” – to express his fear at what the increased duty would do to the industry in Scotland.  The original lines from Milton are on Adam’s words to Eve after the fall - “O fairest of Creation, last and best” - which some may also consider a fitting description for the ‘king o’ drinks’ (RLS), whisky.