This really was the beginning of the golden years for Campbeltown distillers, who hastily began applying for licences. Campbeltown saw a total of 34 distilleries established during the boom of the 19th century and subsequently became known as "Whisky Capital of the World."However, the levels of production were so high that it was inevitable the bubble would burst. The early part of the 20th century saw changes which had a detrimental effect on the Campbeltown whisky trade.Overconfident in their Glasgow monopoly, some Campbeltown distillers became complacent, putting the emphasis on quantity, not quality, which led to the production of inferior spirit. This, coupled with post-war economic depression and prohibition in the United States, took its toll and by 1930 only three distilleries survived. Rieclachan closed in 1934, leaving only Springbank and Glen Scotia.
Springbank Distillery was officially established in 1828 on the previous illicit site of Archibald Mitchell, great-great grandfather of the present Chairman, Mr. Hedley Wright. It was Archibald's sons, John and William who took out a licence and distilled legally as J & W Mitchell.However, John and William were farmers as well as distillers, and quarrels about sheep eventually led them to go their separate ways. John took his own son Alexander into partnership and the name changed to J & A Mitchell & Co. Ltd., as it is today.The Mitchell Family’s interest in distilling did not confine itself to just Springbank. The Mitchells were in fact one of several important distilling dynasties in Campbeltown. Archibald Mitchell had five children: Hugh, Archibald, John, William and Mary.Young Archibald was an original partner in Rieclachan, and was soon joined by his brother Hugh. John bought out Toberanrigh Distillery which had originally been built by his cousin Alexander. Archibald Senior's only daughter, Mary, founded Drumore in 1834 and William, after being in partnership first with John at Springbank then with his other brothers at Rieclachan, went on to found Glengyle in 1872 which he pursued as sole proprietor.
Successive family generations have followed in John Mitchell's footsteps, and have strictly adhered to traditional methods of distillation. Indeed the distillery has remained much the same since 1828, albeit for a few subtle changes.While history and tradition have a great influence on Springbank, the company is also looking to the future. In 2000, J & A Mitchell & Co. Ltd. purchased the buildings of the Old Glengyle Distillery which was founded by the same William Mitchell who took part in the establishment of Springbank; these have been refurbished, and on 25th March 2004 Mitchells Glengyle Distillery was opened. This means that the Mitchell family are now the owners of not only Scotland’s oldest independent distillery but also Campbeltown’s youngest.