Longrow Distillery, Campbeltown.
SUNDAY in Campbeltown is carried to its Jewish length, and is quite a day of gloom and penance. The churches and chapels, which are scattered allover the town, are crowded with well dressed and staid looking people, and everybody carries a pious look on that day. Neither music nor whistling is allowed in either the houses or streets, and the landlady of the hotel was quite shocked at our proposing to play some sacred music on the piano. We might have expected this, as it is said that there are nearly as many places of worship as distilleries in the town. After church we walked out to Kilkerran churchyard, one of the most picturesque burying places we have ever seen. It lies at the foot of Bengoillean the name means, cell of St. Kiarin, who was the tutor of St. Columba. He lived in a cave on this road, and built a church. It is said that St. Patrick converted St Kiarin and gave him a copy of the Four Gospels, and later on transformed his name into Columbahill, which signifies “the dove of the church.” This good man planted churches allover the Peninsula and after converting the Scots, settled in Iona, where he founded a Mission College. Returning by Shore Street and Bolgam Street, we paid a visit to the Drill Hall, wherein some religious service was being held, and back to our hotel in time for tea. The next morning we resumed our labours, and commenced at the Longrow Distillery. The street from whence it takes its name is the most important in Campbeltown, and contains three Distilleries. The first we came to was the one which heads this chapter. It covers two acres of ground, and was built in the year 1824 by Mr. John Ross, who is said to be the oldest living Distiller in Scotland. He is 85 years of age, and is apparently a hale and hearty old gentleman. We found him most hospitable and courteous, and were highly amused at his wit and racy anecdotes. Close by the work stands the United Presbyterian Church, possessing a lofty tower, surmounted by a handsome and massive cupola, which was built mostly at the expense of Mr. Ross, and this spiritual watch tower seems benignly to look down on the great work being carried on below. The establishment is so built in by the houses and shops in Longrow that it would be difficult for a stranger to find it. To reach it we entered a covered archway under the houses, which opened up into a court yard, round which the Distillery buildings are ranged. They are old fashioned and of various styles of architecture. We first inspected the two barley lofts and three malt barns. They are neat buildings, but the roofs are low pitched. At the end there are two Kilns floored with tiles, wherein the furnaces are heated with peat and blind coal. Passing through the Mill and grist loft, we came to the Mash House, an old-fashioned building containing a heating copper, Mash-tun, and Underback. From there we went to the Tun Room, where are placed six wash Backs, a Morton’s Refrigerator, and the Wash Charger. the Still House is one of the quaintest buildings we have seen, and contains two Pot Stills of the smuggler’s pattern, heated by furnaces, three Receivers and Chargers, a small sampling safe, and a steam engine which grinds the mill. Retracing our steps, we reached the three Warehouses, one of which is 130 feet long; they hold about 600 casks. There is a Spirit Store which contains a vat, and the usual casking apparatus; also offices for the distilling and Excise clerks. The water used comes from the Crosshill Loch and a spring rising from a deep well on the premises.
The make is Campbeltown Malt, and the annual output is 40,000 gallons.
Since writing this account of Longrow, we regret to say that Mr. Ross has joined the great majority, and the business is now being carried on by William and James Greenlees.