As a child that grew up in Yorkshire, visiting sites of important historical and industrial significance was an almost monthly duty. Whether it was the Mining Museum, which was essentially a glorified coal mine, where the most exciting thing to do was turn off your head torch and stand in the dark, or Eden Camp, a depressing set of war time huts turned into a desultory museum, or the ever changingly named Magma, an old steel works with some half working exhibits, they never quite lived up to the promise of the many finger worn glossy pamphlets that I surveyed on the journey there. Many a soggy sandwich was consumed and many a childhood day passed, but what does all this nonsense have to do with Springbank Distillery?
In the days of glossy distilleries built specifically to accommodate Teletubbies and many leagues of zombie like visitors, it is easy to forget that distilleries have in fact existed for centuries, performing the industrial process of creating whisky, that they are in fact a work place, and not a visitor attraction. Springbank Distillery acts as a perfect reminder of the history of whisky, of the history of the industry and of the importance of whisky as an employer and as a key part of Scottish life.
Click on the photos to see them enlarged and read more about them, then click anywhere on the page to carry on.
Springbank is a properly independent, traditional distillery. Owned and run by the Mitchell family for five generations, Springbank still uses most of the traditional methods of whisky production. This makes the process feels properly artisanal and the tour experience like stepping back in time.
As a visitor, this means that it is one of, if not the best place to get a full understanding of the process of making whisky. On the tour you follow the journey of barley from arrival, through malting, to milling, then to brewing, into fermentation, then processed through distillation and finally on to the bottling line. Grant was a fantastic host, who was passionate about process and highlighting what Springbank do best. He shared his experience of working at the distillery and living in the Campbeltown area, which meant we as visitors felt valued and included into their whisky family (if only for a hour or two)
We were blown away by how much care Springbank take over the people that work in the distillery. They are a small distillery in terms of overall production, but they choose to keep processes traditional, because not only do they believe it keeps the quality of the whisky at its highest possible, but it also means that they are still an important employer for the local area.
After our tour of Springbank, we briefly visited Glengyle and then took part in an absolutely fantastic warehouse tasting.
For taking us back in time, showing us the details of the whisky process, letting us join in the Campbeltown whisky family and sharing unforgettable whiskies with us, we score this tour 10/10.