Glenside

The below is taken from The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard first published in 1887.

Glenside Distillery, Campbeltown.

JUST as we were starting to visit the establishment which heads this chapter, our worthy landlord offered to drive us to see Saddell Castle, a place intimately connected with Campbeltown in former times, and standing in a district which used to be a favourite haunt of the smugglers. We accepted his offer and in ten minutes were bowling through the town at a great pace. The road is somewhat uninteresting, and was sadly wanting in trees to shelter us from the sun’s rays, nevertheless, we were delighted with the old castle. It is built on a rock north-east of Campbeltown. McDonald or “Righ Fingal,” who resided here, was a great despot, tradition says that he knew the use of gunpowder, and for sport, to keep himself in practice, would shoot people with his long gun. He was also a terrible Don Juan, and if he fancied a married woman, would take her away from her husband, whom he would either imprison or kill. McDonald was also a very strong man. One day three Irish gentlemen came to visit him, and after entertaining them he put them to sleep in one of his barns. Next morning he got up early to salute them, but found them asleep with their necks bare, the temptation was too strong for him, and wishing to test his strength of arm he drew his sword and cut off their heads. Such playful conduct would hardly be tolerated in these days. On returning we drove direct to the Glenside, a district sacred to the memory of Burns, for there, almost close to the Distillery, formerly resided his “Mary,” of whom he wrote,

“For dear to me as light and lifeWas my sweet Highland Mary.”

Her father was a sailor in a revenue cutter stationed at Campbeltown, and principally resided in a little cottage facing the bar.

“I ha’e sworn by the heavens to be true,And sae may the heavens forget meWhen I forget my vow.”

The Distillery was built in the year 1830, and is about a mile from the harbour. The water is brought into the works by a conduit direct from the Aucholochie Loch at the back of the Distillery, and there is a well of splendid water within the enclosure.

The establishment covers two acres of ground and consists of an irregular section of buildings, which are all enclosed and centred by an arched gateway. It is almost as old fashioned as its neighbours, both as regards its appearance and internal arrangements. During the last three years many improvements have been made, but nothing short of pulling the place down, and rebuilding it, could ever give it the appearance of a modern Distillery, and, as the manager remarked, any such alterations would not improve the Whisky or increase the sale.

After paying our respects to Mr. Orr one of the partners and inspecting his quaint little office over the gateway, we commenced our tour of the buildings at the Barley Lofts which are three in number and capable of holding 2,000 quarters of grain. Adjacent are four Malt Barns with the usual Steeps which are connected with three Kilns, each of which is floored with tiles and heated by peat. We next visited the Mill which contains a pair of Malt Cylinders and the Grist Loft. We then descended by a stair to the Mash House, a neat whitewashed building which contains a large heating copper and a circular Mash Tun possessing the patent revolving stirring gear, also a metal Underback. On leaving this place we noticed a capital 12-horse power engine and a steam boiler, 24 feet long by 6 feet in diameter, also an old fashioned fan cooler over the roof of one of the houses, and a Morton’s Refrigerator. We were now conducted to the Tun Room, a heavy looking apartment corresponding with the Still House, which contains four Washbacks each holding 8,000 gallons. Passing through a doorway we came to the Still House which contains a Wash Still 2,483 gallons and a Spirit Still 1,372 gallons capacity respectively, both are of the Old Pot kind; also three Receivers and Chargers and the Safe. Adjoining this building there is a Spirit Store, Cooperage, and Carpenter’s Shop. We then bent our steps to the Warehouses, five in number, all of which are dry and well ventilated and contained 1,600 casks at the time of our visit.

Twelve persons are employed on the works and the Barley used comes principally from Stirlingshire. The make is Campbeltown Malt and the annual output is 70,000 gallons, principally sold in London, Liverpool and Glasgow.

Images of Glenside