Five Scotch Whiskies Under £50: Part 2 Campbeltown

by Matt Chambers
at Whisky for Everyone

Welcome to part two

of an ongoing series about Scotch whiskies under £50. This is the price point where most distilleries and brands place their first bottling or two in their core range.  And where they sell the most.

Within the series we will look at some of the best value for money Scotch whiskies from the six different whisky making regions of Scotland. This time we look at the tiny region of Campbeltown.


Region history

Campbeltown is a sub-region of the Highlands and sits at the southern tip of the remote Kintyre Peninsula on Scotland’s west coast. The town and surrounding area were a hotbed of distilling in mid- to late-Victorian times and boasted over 30 distilleries.

This dwindled to just two by the 1950s – Glen Scotia and Springbank. The decline of whisky making in the town seemed terminal. However, several new craft distilling projects have been given planning permission in recent years, which will swell numbers once more.

The whiskies are traditionally known for their soft, malty, and lightly smoky style with savoury, biscuit-like, and mildly peated notes. Campbeltown whiskies are highly desired due to their relative rarity and have somewhat of a cult status amongst Scotch whisky drinkers.

Campbeltown Loch

This superb and underrated Scotch blended malt features single malts from each of the three current Campbeltown distilleries – Glengyle, Glen Scotia and Springbank. Campbeltown Loch is the small sea loch upon which the town is located. This sits at the western end of the Firth of Clyde and the town looks back east towards the island of Arran and Glasgow.

The three single malts are matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks before being expertly blended. Expect a viscous, almost oily consistency with a lovely honeycomb and vanilla fudge sweetness combined with a gentle sooty and ashy peat smoke, plus a hint of brine. A definite ‘bang for your buck’ whisky and a perfect introduction to the Campbeltown style.

Cost = £39

Glen Scotia | Double Cask

This distillery long stood in the shadow of Springbank, but its fortunes have soared under the guidance of new owners over the last decade. Founded in 1832, Glen Scotia, known simply as Scotia until the 1930s, endured a torrid early life. However, it survived the near-terminal decline in Campbeltown whisky production during the early 20th century and remains stronger than ever today.

The Double Cask is bottled at 46% ABV with the name referring to the two styles of cask the whisky has been matured in – ex-bourbon and ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry. The sweet PX sherry cask lends plenty of caramel, dark dried fruits, and a hint of treacle tart to the flavour profile. This is balanced by lovely notes of honey, vanilla, and butterscotch from the bourbon cask influence. All wrapped up in a whisp of soft, earthy smoke.

Cost = £40

Kilkerran | 12 years old

This delicious single malt is made at the Glengyle distillery, which reopened in 2000 after 75 years of closure. The name is taken from nearby Kilkerran Castle, which was built by King James IV in 1490. All whiskies from Glengyle are named as such. Glengyle has the same ownership as Springbank – J & A Mitchell & Sons. They were responsible for bringing the distillery back to life and it sits just a stone’s throw from Springbank.

The 12 years old is matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels and released at 46% ABV. It is both non-chill filtered and of natural colour. Initial notes of butterscotch and marshmallow give way to further notes of dried fruit cake and oat biscuits. Underneath sit hints of candied orange peel, cocktail cherry, and dusty wood spices, plus the signature Campbeltown whiff of gentle peat smoke.

Cost = £48

Springbank | 10 years old

Springbank is the darling of Campbeltown and holds cult status amongst whisky drinkers. Founded in 1828, it is the region’s most well-known distillery and oldest still in operation. In the Mitchell family since 1837, the distillery is owned by J & A Mitchell & Sons. They also make heavily peated Longrow and triple distilled Hazelburn for short periods each year, both named after long-closed Campbeltown distilleries.

The 10 years old is a classic and quintessential Campbeltown. Plenty of oak, barley and vanilla toffee combine with toasted nuts, milk chocolate and hints of coconut and damp, earthy peat. Once a real ‘value for money’ Scotch single malt, the prices of Springbank have increased rapidly as maturing stocks struggle to meet consumer demand. If you find this for under £50, buy it with no questions asked.

Cost = £49

The Gauldrons

Another blended malt, this time from the family-owned Douglas Laing & Co. Like Campbeltown Loch, this is created using just single malts from the three distilleries in operation. The Gauldrons, named after a notorious part of the town and translating as ‘bay of storms’ from Gaelic, forms part of Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts range. One such bottling exists for each Scotch whisky region.

The Gauldrons is produced in small batches and bottled at 46.2% ABV. It gives you everything that you want from a Campbeltown whisky – sweet maltiness, coastal saltiness and a hint of mineralic peat smoke. Add in notes of warming oak spice, crumbly brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla pod, and you have a whisky of great depth and complexity. This will have you wanting to pour another dram.

Cost = £49


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