Kilkerran (Glengyle)

Glengyle distillery is situated in Campbeltown on the west coast of Scotland. It was originally established in 1872 but closed in 1925 and lay dormant for 60 years. It was revived by J & A Mitchell, owner of Springbank distillery, in 2004.

Glengyle is home to the Kilkerran single malt Scotch whisky.

Entrance to white production building of Glengyle distillery with open red doors and its brand name and logo attached on the walls
Glengyle Distillery in Campbeltown, Scotland where Kilkerran is produced

style

Glengyle produces a lightly peated, oily spirit with a malty character.

Maturation in bourbon casks gives the whisky notes of vanilla and toffee. Sherry casks, meanwhile, provide dried fruit notes with chocolate and aromatic spices.

Peat briquettes
Jute sack containing salt
Small bowl of olive oil surrounded by olive
Selection of nuts flowing from bowl

production

Glengyle was completely renovated before it reopened in 2004. Equipment was sourced from the closed Ben Wyvis distillery in Invergordon.

Production director, Frank McHardy, altered the shape of the Ben Wyvis stills before installing them at Glengyle. The lyne arms were given an upward slant to help create a more complex spirit.

Long fermentation in wooden washbacks produces lots of fruity esters in the wash.

The spirit usually matures in ex-bourbon whiskey barrels and ex-sherry casks. Single cask editions have been matured in casks that previously held other spirits like rum and Calvados. Port and marsala wine casks have also featured.

Regular Kilkerran expressions are peated to around 15 phenol parts per million. In 2019, however, the distillery launched a new series of peat-in-progress bottlings, that comes in around 84 ppm.


history

Glengyle was founded on the crest of a wave. When the distillery was established in 1872, Campbeltown was home to a booming whisky industry. Founder William Mitchell was the nephew of Springbank founder, Archibald Mitchell.

Close view on Glengyle's copper pot stills with open lids and its name sign in the background
Copper pot stills at Glengyle distillery

The distillery remained in William’s family until 1919 when it was bought by Highland Malt Distilleries. By then, the whisky industry was in decline. War had raged across Europe and prohibition would close the American export market.

By 1934, only 2 of Campbeltown’s 24 distilleries remained in operation. They were Springbank and Glen Scotia. Glengyle closed in 1923 and was stripped of its equipment. Only the empty shell of the building survived.

Campbeltown had long been considered one of five Scottish whisky regions. By the 1990s, however, some questioned if a town with only two distilleries could be considered a region. J & A Mitchell, the owner of Springbank, took great offence to such suggestions and proposed a third distillery. This would bring the town level with the Lowlands and ensure its continuing status as a whisky region.

Mitchell’s bought the crumbling Glengyle distillery next door to Springbank. Extensive renovations were completed in 2004 and production began later that year.

The first whiskies appeared in 2009 with the launch of the work in progress series. Since the rights to the Glengyle name were held elsewhere, the whisky was bottled as Kilkerran. The name was chosen after the settlement that preceded Campbeltown, Kinlochkilkerran.

In 2016, the Kilkerran brand released its first 12-year-old single malt. This was followed by an 8-year-old cask strength bottling. The range diversified further in 2019 with the debut of their limited edition peat-in-progress series.

The Kilkerran single malt has already won countless fans but a tiny output of 700,000 litres per annum means there isn’t much to go around. As a result, new releases tend to sell out very quickly.