After the sucessful establishment of Laphroig Distillery in 1816, a farm tack was leased by Walter Frederick Campbell to James and Andrew Gardiner, financiers for the Ardenstiel Distillery.
They installed two experienced Clackmannan distillers to take charge.
Donald Johnson, owner of Laphroig at the time, was deeply disturbed finding out that the new Ardenstiel Distillery proposed to use the same water source, water that had made a vital contribution to Laphroig’s unique character and at a time when he was about to expand his business and had been left with a too small water supply.
The dispute lasted almost six years and ended abruptly when Andrew Stein fill ill with fever and died soon aftertwards. His brother Jmaes stopped distilling and moved to Port Ellen where he managed the Port Ellon Distillery for John Ramsay. In June the following year Donald Johnson himself died in a tragic accident at the Laphroig Distillery when he fell into a vat and was drowned.
The distillery was then passed to John Cassels who kept it for less than a year.
The distillery then came into the hands of William Hunter who struggled to make it pay, operating at half capacity producing 33,000 gallons per year. By February 1866, William Hunter was made bankrupt and by 1868 the distillery was reported dilapidated.
Ardenistiel was later incorporated into Laphroig when it failed, largely due to the neglect of the manager who was more interested in using the kilns to produce smoked ham. He installed 2000 pigs to graze on Texa islet just offshore from the distillery but that venture, too, failed and he went banktupt.
Ardenisteil’s derelict buildings eventually became the site of Laphroig’s warehouses and offices today.