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Updated 05/17/2018


Loch Ruan
George M. McIntyre

Loch Ruan Reservoir is next to Campbeltown in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The loch acts as the reservoir for Campbeltown and also provided the water for the nearby Lochruan Distillery. Lochruan is Gaelic for ‘Red Loch’, the name coming from the heather that covers the slopes and which turns red in autumn. The loch on Knock Scalbart is actually recorded on maps as Knockruan Loch, Knock being Gaelic for Hill so the name understandably translates to Redhill Loch.

Known until the 1600s as Kinlochkilkerran, the region of Campbeltown was once regarded as the “whisky capital of the world”, boasting nearly 34 distilleries in its heyday; only three remain in the town today.

The Lochruan Distillery was built by Robert and Charles Johnston in 1835, a decade after the first wave of distilleries, it was then extended and improved by new owners from 1867.  There were three stills when Barnard visited and interestingly the 1865 map only shows two worm tubs outside.  The top of these can just be made out in the etching in Barnard and it shows two pipes leading into one of them.

Despite reporting on the loch in the hills Barnard doesn’t actually mention which water source supplied the distillery.  He does note that the whisky “owes its reputation to the peculiar excellence of the water, and the care exercised in manufacture”, so maybe it was one of the few not drawing water from Crosshill Loch.  The Kintyre Forum post includes some interesting comments about a burn that “from knock scalbert runs under ground and passes my house … into the loch at the wee Dalintober jetty” so this seems to confirm a supply that the distillery could use.  Maps from as far back as 1865 record ‘Campbeltown W.S.’ beside the loch for Water Supply.

A few alterations were made in 1921 but their use was short lived before the closure in 1925.  The distillery was then demolished and the land was used for more of the 1930s housing that was built around much of the north and west side of the loch, and in this case the tenements still stand today.  Nothing remains of the old distillery but the loch is still marked as W.S. on current ordnance survey maps.

Loch Ruan' was composed by George Maceachran MacIntyre (1918–1997) of Campbeltown, who served with the 8th Argylls and was taken prisoner at St. Valery in 1940. MacIntyre lived for many years in Corby, England, but later returned to Campbelton. He was for a time piper to Colonel Gayre of Nigg at Minard Castle, Loch Fyne (his collection of original pipe compositions is named after Minard Castle). George M. McIntyre was a prolific writer of pipe music. His tunes include numerous marches, reels, hornpipes, and jigs.