Campbeltown Malts Festival: A guide

Campbeltown Malts Festival 2019 kicks off in just two weeks today. Whether you have been booked since last year or are a last minute festival goer, this guide will help you make the most of your visit.

For those who have never been before, the Campbeltown Malts Festival is a 4 day event (21st – 24th May) centred around distillery open days at Kintyre Gin (yes, I know, it’s not whisky, but we’re a friendly bunch down here and like to be inclusive. Plus, it’s very tasty gin), Glen Scotia, Springbank and Kilkerran/Cadenheads. The open days are great fun: live music, local food, craft stalls, distillery tours and loads of like-minded people to share it with.  As guest blogger Bozzy says, this festival is about so much more than just whisky tastings!

And the great thing is, once you get yourself to Campbeltown, everything is within walking distance  (Well, apart from Kintyre Gin but they’re putting on free minibuses to get to there!) so in between whisky tasting and open days you can have a wander round the loch, browse round the local shops or pop into a pub for a pint.

Campbeltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky!

Fringe Events

Oh, and did I mention the fringe events? How about a guided Liquid History walking tour? Or catching a movie in the beautifully restored Campbeltown Picture House? (There is a special malts festival screening of Scotch! on the Tues evening, and you can take a dram into the auditorium with you!). The Ardshiel Hotel has a Single Malts of Scotland tasting and two SMWS ones (one real, one virtual) as well as an outstanding whisky bar to visit. And the Craigard Hotel has a special whisky-themed menu available all week in their loch-side restaurant.  Then, to round off the week, enjoy some traditional music and dancing at the Campbeltown Town Hall Malts Festival Ceilidh.

The one downside to the ever-growing popularity of this event is that you do have to get in quickly to get tickets for the distillery tastings. Most of this year’s have already sold out but you can still find a few sneaky tickets on Eventbrite (You need to scroll through a lot of sold out Springbank events to get to the Evolution of Kilkerran Tasting which still has tickets available) and there are a few events that are only available to book on the day.  Please don’t worry if you don’t have tickets though. As I’ve already mentioned, there’s loads going on even without having tickets to the distillery tastings. And let’s face it, there’s going to be no shortage of whisky in this town!

Photo showing the art deco interior of screen 1 in the Campbeltown Picture House
The art deco main auditorium in Campbeltown Picture House

Where to Stay

Finally, the thorny issue of accommodation. Now, it’s true that most of the accommodation in the centre of town does get booked up pretty early (although I have just found out the Craigard has had a cancellation so now has a double room available. If you want it get in there quick!). However, if you are prepared to widen the net a little and take a taxi home at the end of the night there are still some cracking places available. At the time of writing the following properties all have availability during the week of the malts festival; Craigmore East Self CateringPeninver Sands Holiday Park, Ardnacross Shore Cottages, The House at Glenbarr, Lephenstrath Bridge Cottages, Stargazer Cottage (Sleeps 2/4. phone 01583 431345) and Carradales Guest House.

No Ubers down here but plenty of local taxis. To get to the properties above you’re looking at about £14 to Machrihanish/Peninver, £25 to Southend and £38 to Carradale.

See you in a couple of weeks!

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