Showing posts with label scapa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scapa. Show all posts

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Malt Mission 2008 #317

Scapa 14yo
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
40% abv
$56.96 (CAD)

*Most Under-rated whisky
Vote HERE (before Mar 6, 2009)

Based on the northern Orkney islands, Scapa is somewhat of a neglected jewel in the Pernod Ricard (Chivas, Glenlivet, Aberlour) portfolio. The distillery is only producing spirit 3 days a week. It is unsual in still using a lomond still, although it is operated as a normal still today (the parallel plates have been removed), and Scapa practices the longest fermentation time of any distillery: 160 hours.

This Scapa 14 expression replaced the Scapa 12 (Malt Mission #67) expression in 2004 and the rumours are that a Scapa 16 may be soon replacing this 14yo. To be fair, this sort of thing makes sense as their stocks from a period of when the distillery was mothalled (1994-2004) must be very limited as the only spirit produced during these years was when staff from the nearby Highland Park distillery would come by for a couple months per year to fire up the stills. So most the stock to be used to make a well-rounded spirit may actually be quite a bit older than 12, 14, or 16 (hence the age jumps, and justifiable price jumps).

For more distillery info or to see all Scapas had on the Malt Mission, click HERE.


Powdered candied sweets. Earth, soil and salt, oak and fruits. Little jojoba. FunDip. Really quite appetising.

Soft and juicy, like actual juice... and booze. Toffee sweet, drying with time. Dirtier and drier with time. Feels good in the mouth.


Extremely enjoyable. Light nose, heavier body, sweet and salty dram with few comparisons.

Malt Mission #316
Malt Mission #318
Malt Mission #319
Malt Mission #320

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #164

Scapa 23yo, Sherry finish
Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask

612 bottles
Island Single Malt Whisky
50% abv


Scapa distillery lives in the shadow of its more famous Orkney neighbour, Highland Park. Scapa flow is the stretch of sea linking the North Sea with the Atlantic. German vessels were sunk there in 1919 and now rest on the sea floor. The Royal Viking Fleet of King Haakon (pronounced hawk-un) was stationed in Scapa flow in the 13th century. Old Norse gives Scapa its name, meaning 'ship' or 'boat'. Find all Scapas enjoyed on the mission HERE.

Douglas Laing is an independent bottler of good repute, but as supplies get tighter and tighter in the whisky industry one wonders from where they will be sourcing casks for the future security of their company. Most indies have bought up or partnered up with distilleries so they have some cask-trading power because in the future, money won't be enough to acquire casks of mature or maturing whisky. What is Douglas Laing's plan?

The company releases bottlings under different brand and blend names. This expression is from their Old Malt Cask range and always bottled at 50%abv. It was finished for 6 months in a sherry cask.

This whisky was voted 'dram of the night', just beating tomorrow drop by one or two votes in the tasting we had in Toronto. Each dram we had is featured this week on the mission. We even had the control to leave 3-4 servings in the bottom of the bottle for the hosts who let us use their flat. Kind or stupid?TASTING NOTES:

Gentle and sumptuous sherry, plums, brown sugar and oak. Very complex nose, with big depth. Salty like peanuts. Creamy honeyed tones. Apples and honey. Earthy. Ginger biscuits. Malt is miraculously still present coming across as a hard, dry, oatiness. Slightly perfumy.

Firm, caressing, sensual mouthfeel. Oatmeal cookies, cardboard, sweetness and fruitiness of sherry balances the musty dry oakiness. Salt-and-sweet where the sherry lingers in a soft oak and cocoa finish.


An excellent Scapa. The sherry compliments the salt and honey-nut distillery character character with the musty vanilla and pulp and paper mill influence from 20-some years in bourbon.

Malt Mission #161
Malt Mission #162
Malt Mission #163
Malt Mission #165

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #67

Scapa 12 yo
Island Single Malt Whisky
40% abv

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.

Malt Mission #66
Malt Mission #68
Malt Mission #69
Malt Mission #70

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #59

Scapa 10yo
Premium Bottlers

101 and SCAP102

During one of the stretches of our North American Adventure when we were in Toronto, we had the privilege to meet two very passionate, if not totally crazy, whisky enthusiasts who have taken great risks and faced great challenges to be the first independent bottlers of Scotch whisky in Canada. They undertook this mission to address the lack of availability of independent single cask bottlings in Canada, and specifically at the LCBO. In turns fascinating and frustrating, their efforts are worth celebrating, and their story may take two days to tell...

Every resident in a state, province, or country that has a liquor monopoly has, at one time or another, fantasised about getting their hands on the glorious bounty they realised was available on their travels to Chile or Australia for wine, Eastern Europe and Russia for vodka, and Scotland for the glorious water of life, whisky. The reality is that if we all lived in a vacuum, without the internet or air travel, we would all be quite content with the limited lines of products available to us in the provinces of Ontario or
British Columbia, the states of Washington or Pennsylvania, or the countries of Norway or Sweden, to name just a few examples of government-run liquor monopolies. But to visit Scotland just once and realise that the LCBO, for example, carries less than 5% of the 2500 different brands of Scottish whisky will invariably leave one eternally unsatisfied by a visit to the liquor store back home.

Now, while we have all thought about doing something about this, Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein have actually been determined (and brave) enough to take matters into their own hands. Neither Barry had any experience in the liquor industry but were united by a passion for Scottish whisky.

When they began their journey in 2004, they knew there would be legal challenges ahead, but they could never have imagined just how many obstacles would emerge in the quest to import and bottle spirits in Ontario. In Ontario, only the Liquor Control Board of Ontario(LCBO) can import and sell booze. If the Barrys wanted to sell to the LCBO they would need to be set up as agents of foreign suppliers, have their products purchased by the LCBO, and imported by the LCBO. This was not what they wanted to do; they wanted to source their own casks of single malt whisky and to be the primary suppliers of
the stuff. Thus began a self-guided study of the Provincial and Federal Acts surrounding sale and import of alcohol in Canada. After months of research and conversations with bureaucrats they found out that they could import bulk spirits if they obtained a Federal Excise Distilling and Bonded Warehouse license, but they would first need to form a company, so in February 2005 Premium Bottlers, Inc. was born... on paper.

Their research also informed them that the federal regulations in the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act and the Food and Drug Act mandate that imported Scotch Whisky be blended with domestic spirits before packaging(!). This was obviously going to be a potential problem as their intention was to bottle SINGLE MALT whisky, so more research was needed.
(continued tomorrow...)



Sweet and perfumy. Plastic fruit basket, or fruit scented body lotion on a woman's neck. Warming vanilla like a hot beverage. Dry oakiness. Very appetising, pre-dinner malt.

Palate much deeper than the light perfumy features of the nose would suggest. Fleshy, carob, milk, Grape-nuts.
Lemon zestiness.


A lively and enjoyable whisky with lots of distillery character from the unjustifiably overlooked Scapa. Water let out a lot more oak and wood characteristics. Tasty stuff.



Immediately creamy-effect in the nose, drying with oak in the back, and a flurry of impressions in between. Plain yoghurt, dry breakfast cereal, oil paints, apple juice, green peppers... Busy; I could go on.

Straight forward and confident (more like its nose than the 101): French toast, malted barley, citrus and raw vegetables. Slightly sour. Eggy, warming, and mouth coating in oak on the finish.


Great how Premium Bottlers have managed to find (and chosen to bottle) two very different Scapas. Not sure which one I prefer, tho. It is certainly a mood thing. This cask tastes older. The 101 has a new-make assertiveness, rich barley sweetness that is deeply appetising, and the 102 has more vegetables, green malt, and oak after the bourbon has all been sucked out. Overall, two excellent examples of Scapa from real pioneers in the independent bottling world.

Malt Mission #56
Malt Mission #57
Malt Mission #58
Malt Mission #60

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