A spring in its step

Wel­come to Camp­bel­town, the small­est Scotch whisky re­gion and the home of Spring­bank dis­tillery.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - Star2@thes­tar.com.my

IT may be the small­est of Scot­land’s whisky re­gions to­day, but Camp­bel­town used to be THE whisky cap­i­tal of the world.

Lo­cated on the Kin­tyre penin­sula on the south-west coast of Scot­land, Camp­bel­town is a small town of about 5,000 peo­ple. At first, it seems strange that this lit­tle town is ac­tu­ally clas­si­fied as one of Scot­land’s main whisky re­gions along­side Is­lay, Spey­side, High­lands and the Low­lands.

Ac­cord­ing to Spring­bank Dis­tillery’s re­gional sales man­ager David Allen, this is all down to the re­gion’s his­tory.

“Yes, it does seem a bit bizarre that a small town with only 5,000 peo­ple and three dis­til­leries is a whisky re­gion on its own. But for a pe­riod of time, Camp­bel­town was ac­tu­ally con­sid­ered the whisky cap­i­tal of the world,” he said dur­ing an in­ter­view in Pe­tal­ing Jaya re­cently.

“Back in the 1890s to 1920s, Camp­bel­town had over 30 le­gal dis­til­leries, and many more il­le­gal ones, which is quite in­cred­i­ble con­sid­er­ing there were only about 2,000 peo­ple liv­ing there at the time,” he said.

“We have our own style of whisky – very ro­bust, com­plex with mar­itime notes, and a dis­tinct flavour pro­file that was sought af­ter by the big blen­ders of the day and also in the US mar­ket.”

Among the rea­sons for Camp­bel­town’s boom­ing whisky busi­ness was the fact that it had all the right in­gre­di­ents for a whisky in­dus­try, in­clud­ing bar­ley farms, peat bogs to sup­ply peat, and coal mines to fuel the stills. The town it­self also had a deep sea har­bour which made it easy to trans­port the whisky by boats from Camp­bel­town, ei­ther fur­ther into Scot­land, or west, to­wards Amer­ica.

Ac­cord­ing to him, there were a lot of rea­sons for the de­cline of Camp­bel­town whisky, in­clud­ing the World Wars, Pro­hi­bi­tion and the Great De­pres­sion in Amer­ica, and even Al Capone, who was said to have made low-qual­ity boot­leg whisky and put them in Camp­bel­town casks to try to pass it off as gen­uine Scotch whisky.

“When there was a lot of de­mand for Camp­bel­town whisky,

The Spring­bank dis­tillery is one of the main flag­bear­ers for Camp­bel­town re­gion Scotch whisky. ROSLI/The Star Pho­tos: MUHAMAD SHAHRIL

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