PR invite // All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.
I was so excited to be invited to attend the Campbeltown Malts Festival with Glen Scotia this year! I’ve never been to the festival before so was really looking forward to see what it was all about. Especially as we had things like the Campbeltown Whisky History Walking Tour, Dunnage Warehouse Tasting and Festival Dinner on the itinerary.
To kick of the festival Glen Scotia hosts a Malts Festival Dinner at The Officers Mess at Machrihanish Airbase. About 200 people were attending and we enjoyed a three course dinner and four drams presented by Iain McAlister Charles Maclean, Felipe Schrieberg and Neil Ridley.
We had got to choose our dinner previously and I went with quite a Scottish line up of Haggis BonBons, Steak and Cranachan. I was really impressed by the quality and flavour of the food as the haggis bonbon were perfectly creamy with a good balance of black pepper. Even the steak was perfectly cooked rare with a pink hue in the middle and so soft it almost melted in your mouth.
The drams were of course really lovely and a mix of peated and unpeated expressions. Three of these four are not expressions available in any shop, and the fourth one was this years Campbeltown Malts Festival Release. I really enjoy this years festival bottling from Glen Scotia and think it might be my favourite peated expression that I’ve tried so far. Usually I prefer the unpeated stuff from them.
Campbeltown Malts Festival 2023 at Glen Scotia Distillery
For the festival day at Glen Scotia they were offering a variety of events and happenings. We managed to do a fair few so I’ll tell you a bit more about them all here below. The distillery had also opened up for a wee market hall for some local artists, craftsmen and other people with various things to sell, such as a beekeeper, a chocolatier and the artist Alice Angus who was part of last years artist collaboration. She has done some lovely water colour paintings of the distillery and was selling prints at the market.
Campbeltown Whisky History Walking Tour
Our first day, before the festivities properly kicked off the following day, we met up with Hector, the assistant distillery manager, who took us on a walk around Campbeltown to show us where all the “lost distilleries” that once stood here would’ve been located and also told us about some of the history in the area. It’s quite incredible how many distilleries that existed in such a small area and in that close proximity to each other.
A distillery tour felt like the perfect start to the festival day. Our guide showed us the different production areas, besides the warehouse and took us back to the courtyard afterwards. Some of the highlights of the tour is to see the half open mash tun, which is not very common in distilleries. I always enjoy seeing stills as well since it’s always fun to see what their shape and form will be.
Dunnage Warehouse Tasting
One of the highlights of the day was the dunnage warehouse tasting with Iain McAlister and Charlie MacLean. Iain is always very good at hosting tastings and Charlie is of course a bundle of knowledge and good stories. We tried a variety of brilliant whiskies straight from the warehouse casks. Some peated, some unpeated, some fun casks and some straight up delicious ex-bourbon. The floral unpeated ex-bourbon one we started on and the one from an old (as in really old and used) sherry-cask were probably my two favourites on this occasion. If you get the chance to visit the distillery and do a dunnage warehouse tasting like this, the I’d highly recommend it. It’s just really good whisky – and if Iain is hosting then it’s even better!
Rhythm & Booze Project
It was such a pleasure to finally get to see Felipe and Paul from the Rhythm & Booze Project play and host a tasting at the festival. They play blues music which always makes me really happy and are so professional and entertaining in front of a crowd. I’m sad I only caught the end of their session as I would’ve loved to sit down and enjoy a full hour (or longer) of it. If you see that the Rhythm & Booze Project are playing – don’t miss it! I’m hoping to go see them at the fringe festival in Edinburgh in August.
Future of Campbeltown Discussion
One of the panel discussions that took place on the main stage during the day was one about the future of Campbeltown. Since there’s currently three new distilleries planned in the area – Macrihanish, Dál Riata and Witchburn – it will be an exciting time ahead to see how the new distilleries might impact the region. At the moment there’s not much to do in Campbeltown besides whisky and the choice of hotels and restaurants is currently quite limited which might need to change to attract more visitors to the distilleries.
The Sound of Glen Scotia Music Project
Whisky Writer Neil Ridley, Singer-Songwriter Jenny Sturgeon and producer Dean Honer collaborated on this years artist collaboration for Glen Scotia. They used special microphones to record audio and sounds from inside the distillery and used these to produce a song called Copper Heart with lyrics inspired by Glen Scotia and Campbeltown. A really interesting project and something a bit different inspired by a distillery.
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