Springbank distillery is an independent, family-run distillery which began legal distillation in 1828. The chairman is Hedley Wright, the great, great, great grandson of Archibald Mitchell, the last in a long line of illicit distillers and the great, great grandson of John Mitchell, the family’s first legal distiller.
It is one of the few scottish distilleries where 100% of the production happens at the same site. It is very rare to find a distillery that still malts their own barley but Springbank is one of only two distilleries which malts 100% of its own barley. The whole production process, from malting, milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, maturing to bottling, happens in Campbeltown.
Three malt whiskies are produced at Springbank distillery, each with a unique character. Hazelburn is unpeated and distilled three times, Springbank is lightly peated and distilled two and a half times and Longrow is more heavily peated and distilled two times.
Kilkerran is produced at the neighbouring Glengyle distillery in Campbeltown. Glengyle distillery operated from 1872-1925, re-opening in 2004 after 4 years of works to locate and install modern distillery machinery. In the interim years the buildings had been used to store agricultural machinery and house a shooting gallery. The whisky produced at Glengyle is called Kilkerran (the english translation of the gaelic name for Campbeltown (Chille Chiarain)). The re-establishment of this distillery, allowed Campbeltown to retain its independent whisky region status. It means that there are now three working distilleries in Campbeltown (Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia), the same number of working distilleries as the lowland whisky region. Kilkerran is produced with the same malted barley as Springbank, therefore it is lightly peated. As the whisky which is currently being bottled is relatively young it is part of a work in progress (WIP) series. In 2014, WIP 6 will be bottled in two versions, light (matured in bourbon casks) and dark (matured in sherry casks). The WIP series will continue until Kilkerran reaches 12 years old and this will then become the standard bottling of Kilkerran.
Two blended whiskies are also produced, Campbeltown Loch (consists of 40% malted whisky such as Springbank, Longrow and some other malts) at Springbank and Mitchell’s (consists of 60% malted whisky, including Kilkerran) at Glengyle. Blended whiskies are normally the lifeblood of distilleries but at Springbank, blended whiskies make up only a fraction of production, compared to an industry standard of 80%.