Founded by brothers William IV, John and Robert Harvey – who also owned grain distilleries in Glasgow – its main focus was on creating malt for blended Scotch.
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, the distillery changed hands numerous times and saw many closures, first in 1929 for seven years, and again in the 1930s and 1990s, when Whyte & Mackay mothballed it for good.
It was in 2000 that the distillery finally found its opportunity when independent bottler Murray McDavid – led by Mark Reynier – came together with locals to purchase the distillery for £6 million. The distillery had been neglected for some time, but the group brought it back to life and invested in a number of interesting casks to produce unique cask-finished releases for which it became well known in the whisky aficionado space.
Twelve years later, its success was confirmed when Remy Cointreau came knocking, purchasing the distillery for £58 million – a huge increase on the original purchase price.
The current capacity is 1.5 million litres and its unique thin and tall still shape adds a delicacy to the spirit, which makes for a gentle Islay malt. Its peated releases – Port Charlotte and Octomore – take on a richly peated characteristic, with Octomore often being said to be the peatiest single malt available.