Many towns in Scotland can lay claim to some connection with the bard, and Campbeltown is no exception! His ‘Highland Mary’ was brought up in Campbeltown; Mary Campbell and Robert Burns were engaged in 1786 but she died in Greenock later that year. Their brief, but intense, romance led Burns’ to immortalise her in such poems as ‘The Highland Lassie O’ and ‘To Mary in Heaven’;
Thou ling’ring star, with lessening ray,
That lov’st to greet the early morn,
Again thou usher’st in the day
My Mary from my soul was torn.
O Mary! dear departed shade!
Where is thy place of blissful rest?
See’st thou thy lover lowly laid?
Hear’st thou the groans that rend his breast?
What better to toast the bard then, than a dram from Mary’s native Campbeltown?
Here are some of our suggestions;
The oldest of Campbeltown’s remaining distilleries, family-owned Springbank prides itself on carrying out 100% of the production process, from malting to bottling, on site at the distillery. The 10 year old provides a fantastic introduction to Springbank’s inimitable style; full bodied, oily, briny and slightly smoky – a true Campbeltown classic!
If you like your malts a bit peatier, why not try a Longrow? This heavily peated malt has been produced at Springbank since the 1970s and offers a smokier style, probably more similar to the Campbeltown whiskies of old. I’m sure Burns would’ve approved. The quality of the Campbeltown malts (illegally produced in his time of course) is said to have inspired him to sing ‘O Willie brew’d a peck o maut’ while visiting his ‘Highland Mary’ in Dalintober.
Founded in 1832, Glen Scotia distillery is in Dalintober where Mary Campbell was from. In fact, there’s a plaque commemorating her on the distillery wall. The distillery produces a range of malts, all very much in the traditional Campbeltown style; try the delightfully smoky Victoriana or one of their limited releases, like this first fill bourbon cask, bottled for the Campbeltown Malts Festival last year.
First distilled in 2004, Kilkerran is the newest of the Campbeltown Malts. Its name comes from the old gaelic name for Campbeltown ‘Ceann Loch Cille Chiarain’ a nod to Campbeltown’s historic distilling past. Owned by the same family as Springbank, this new distillery has many years of whisky making experience behind it – which can be clearly seen in the quality of their 12 year old single malt.
However you choose to celebrate Burns’ Night, have a fabulous time (and try not to get that fou!). We’ll leave you with some words from the bard himself about our national drink;
O Willie brew’d a peck o’ maut,
And Rob and Allen cam to see;
Three blyther hearts, that lee-lang night,
Ye wadna found in Christendie.
We are na fou, we’re nae that fou,
But just a drappie in our ee;
The cock may craw, the day may daw
And aye we’ll taste the barley bree.