10th Campbeltown Malts festival boosts Whiskyopolis

Shelley and Iain Mcalister, Glen Scotia manager, at Whiskyopolis.

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Whisky lovers from round the globe flowed into Campbeltown, the spirit’s former capital of the world, dubbed Whiskyopolis.

They were in town this week for the 10th annual Malts Festival which opened on Tuesday and seems more popular than ever, with visitors packing every available hotel and guest house.

On Monday evening, representatives of all the town’s distilleries were ecstatic about Campbeltown Heritage Centre’s Whiskyopolis exhibition at its premiere.

The exhibition was opened by the centre’s patron, Patrick Stewart, the Lord Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute, appearing in his personal capacity.

The 13 panels chart the heyday of distilling from 1850 to 1910.

Springbank’s director of sales and marketing, former Courier reporter Ranald Watson, said: ‘The opening is perfect timing, as the town is awash with visitors this year.’

Mr Watson and Glen Scotia manager Iain Mcalister said the best thing about the exhibition was that it is not a marketing effort by the distilleries and they would be happy to send visitors to view the panels.

Opening the show, Mr Stewart said: ‘It fills a gap in the story of Campbeltown. I am really amazed at the detail.

‘Distilling went through hard times and it survives making a product famed throughout the whisky world.’

Kintyre Amenity Trust trustee Professor Ron Roberts said: ‘It is a marvellous industry in a remarkable town.’

Earlier, former hotelier Alan Milstead, one of the driving forces behind keeping Campbeltown Heritage Centre going, thanked his fellow trustees.

In particular, he thanked David Roberts for research and writing the history and Gordon Bennie of Argyll Signs for printing the boards.

Mr Milstead also made a plea for more volunteers. He said: ‘Two years ago we redesigned the logo and had banners produced and a trickle of visitors became a flood.

‘We need at least six volunteers. Next week I am on holiday and the Tuesday afternoon slot which I fill needs to be covered.’

Mr Watson added:  ‘The Malts Festival is an amazing week in Campbeltown from any perspective. It is hard to calculate how much this week brings into the town. It would not surprise me if it was well into seven figures.

‘It all started in 2009 from discussions I had with Peter Currie and Springbank managing director Neil Clapperton. The first festival was just five hours on one day and it has grown into nearly a week.’

At the end of his speech Mr Stewart told a cautionary tale, saying that whisky’s heyday was not perfect for everyone.

He said that his great-grandfather had worked in distilling till 1871 and lost his job, took to the fishing and died aged 41, in 1884, as a pauper.