Scapa 12 yo
Island Single Malt Whisky
This is one of the two distilleries on the northern Orkney Islands. There are 70 islands that fall under that title and 17 are inhabited. On what the locals call 'the mainland' one finds Highland Park and, just down the road, Scapa.
In 2003, it seemed that Scapa's days were numbered. It is really with gratitude to neighboring Highland Park and crew that Scapa has stocks from the years between 1994 and 2004. They used to come to the run-down distillery and fire up the stills for a few weeks each year.
Orkney and Scapa Flow have a rich history from Viking rule in the 11th century to the world wars.
This has been replaced by the new standard release Scapa 14 year old which won the 2005 Bottling of the Year from Loch Fyne Whisky in Inverary, Scotland.
Salty and sweet. Fresh and outdoorsy, spring, hay or cut grass. Smells of a distillery, or a bakery in a distillery; Bailey's and shortbread. With time, sherry and toasted oak characteristics emerge.
Malty and sweetened with vanilla and powdered sugar. Quick and fleeting peat presence. Jam and bread, jelly donuts. Great development into a rich, green sort of oakiness that makes me lick my lips and suck the roof of my mouth. This only increases with time in the glass as more sherry and toastiness make their presence felt. Some white pepper and just a trickle of smoke as the finish fades... slowly.
I have always loved this whisky, good honest malt character, good complexity and balance, and great value. When I first got the whisky bug, this distillery had no guarantee of a future so when Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard reinvested in 2004, got the stills up and running, and released the 14yo, I can admit to being a happy man. But I did need to scurry and buy a few 12s before they disappeared. Sad that one has to nurse every last drop of this discontinued bottling, but the Scapa 14 is also stellar, and with the intermittent production over the last 13 years it serves as a good reminder of the fact that the age statement on any given whisky indicates the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle. So the good news is that the immediate future looks secure for Scapa.
* - prices listed may vary as this is a discontinued bottling and is no longer widely available. When it was around in OddBins, for example, it sold for around £24, and $50 at the LCBO.
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