With a group of friends that I’ve known for almost 20 years, we go to Scotland more or less every two years. The previous trip was in 2018, to Islay, which meant the next one was planned for the spring of 2020.
Of course that didn’t happen. We had to postpone to autumn of 2020, and then to early 2021, and then to late 2021. Finally, last month ‘Scotland 2020’ happened and we ended up going to Arran. Less whisky events than before, and much more hiking was on the agenda. Of course, this does not mean that there are no whisky events at all.
One of the two things we wanted to do was go to Campbeltown, and since we already booked tickets for Springbank’s ‘Wee Toon Walking Tour’ we thought to just do that. Things change in two years and that tour doesn’t exist anymore. Back to the drawing board.
With Cadenhead’s not being what it was in 2018, based on the few reports I got on it, and us not wanting to do a lot of distillery tours, we wanted a whisky thing, that was something else. Enter Mark Watt.
Watt Whisky started just before the pandemic, and is based in Campbeltown. I met Mark Watt a couple of times at Maltstock, and through Facebook there had been some interaction, so not complete strangers in that regard.
The concept of the Wee Toon Walking Tour was explained and the question was asked whether he and Kate could do something like that. With a tasting of course. It turned out they could. And with Kate being a Campbeltown local, the walking tour wasn’t much of a problem either.
On March 29th we took the ferry from Lochranza to Cloanaig, and drove south to Campbeltown. At 11 AM sharp, we pulled up in Kirk Street. After a quick toilet break we were on our feet walking around Campbeltown, luckily on a pretty and sunny day.
I won’t go into a lot of detail in regards to the tour, but in short, it was awesome. There was a lot of information about the town, from recent history to things from the 19th century. Topics like urban planning, the Mussel Ebb, distilleries and the accompanying infrastructure came up. Of course, it wouldn’t be a visit to the Watts without cracking a couple of dad-jokes.
Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia (above) we no surprise, but we saw the locations of former distilleries like Benmore, Dalintober, Burnside, Hazelburn, Longrow, Lochend, Albyn, and a few others too. The idea that Springbank and Glengyle, now only a short walk apart, bookended both Union and Campbeltown distillery!
All in all, a great tour that I think they should make into a regular thing. With the new distilleries planned for Campbeltown, they are there in time for Watt Whisky to become a permanent fixture in the Campbeltown whisky scene, methinks.
A visit to a whisky bottler without a tasting would be rather farcical, so of course, this was also in the plans for this random Tuesday. As it turns out we were quite early in this regard, since March 29th was also the first day Watt Whisky held a license to host tastings like this one!
We mostly had Scotch, no surprise there, but also an Israeli whisky from Milk & Honey Distillery, and a Venezuelan rum made the line-up. I didn’t write tasting notes since I was having too good a time just tasting whisky, and chatting about it, to start nerding out like that. Yes, we were nerding out anyway, just differently.
If not for Brexit, I would have bought quite some bottles, but with customs allowing only one liter per person, ergo one bottle, we didn’t risk it. With travel only being available since a short time, we had no handed down information on how strict things would be, so we took that bit slow.
In the end I bought the 21 year old Undisclosed Highland Whisky, of which Mark also doesn’t know which distillery produced it. Tasting notes to that one will follow soon-ish.
In short, if you’re in Campbeltown, and the Watts are available, I highly recommend paying them a visit!
Thanks Mark & Kate!