Haunted Distillery Series: Glen Scotia

14-11-2016 By Emily Stockden

Even though it is one of the three remaining Campbeltown distilleries that is still functional, it isn’t difficult to imagine ghosts roaming Glen Scotia distillery: it looks much as it did in the 19th century when Duncan MacCallum built the malting floors of the impressive frontage on the town’s High Street.

At one point, Glen Scotia was one of 28 other distilleries thriving in Campbeltown, but slowly but surely all of them closed turning the "whisky capital of the world" into a ghost town with 37 miles of island and only 200 people living on it today. The 1920s were a devastating time for Campbeltown distilleries and by 2010 only three distilleries continued to produce whisky in Campbeltown: Springbank, Glengyle, and Glen Scotia.

So how did such a thriving whisky capital turn into a ghost town? The first World War meant that by the time Prohibition started in the US, Campbeltown distilleries were barely getting by. Still today in 2016, the US is the second largest export market for Scotch whisky behind only France. Ultimately, Glen Scotia managed to survive Prohibition resuming production in 1933 just after Prohibition was repealed, despite West Highland Malt Distillers' bankruptcy in 1924. The distillery passed to Duncan McCallum (who had previously been one of the directors of WHMD); however, in 1928 McCallum himself went bankrupt. He was ruined by an illegitimate business deal that forced Glen Scotia to close.

In 1930 Duncan McCallum, tragically committed suicide by throwing himself into the Campbeltown Loch and drowning after learning that he had been ruined by a business deal that went wrong. His spirit apparently still returns to haunt the building, even once the distillery was refitted after having fallen silent for 15 years.

Barrels at Glen Scotia distillery