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Seven Scapa plus a bonus


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Hello, that is one in every of our (virtually) each day tastings. Santé!



September 10, 2022



Angus’s Nook
From our correspondent and
expert taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Seven Scapa
plus a bonus
Scapa might be one of many distilleries / manufacturers that I discover most bewildering and irritating. Regardless of being situated in one of the outstanding and romantic places in Scotland, and in addition being a chic, usually prime quality and charismatic make, it appears to have suffered from an extended and oddly persistent historical past of neglect.


At time of writing the 2 present official expressions are a pair of fairly uninspiring NAS choices. If ever there was a distillery that was crying out for a re-think and a relaunch, it’s Scapa. Particularly given how extremely it has been considered a single malt over time by many whisky drinkers; I keep in mind the now discontinued 16yo hardly sat on the cabinets once I labored in Peckhams and Oddbins in Glasgow. For now although, it appears as if it’s destined to stay a mixing machine for Pernod – which little question the blenders are very pleased about, understandably. It is not usually we get to tase many Scapas aspect by aspect, so this ought to be a fairly instructive and attention-grabbing wee session. However first, an aperitif… 



Waitrose Millennium Single Malt Whisky 21 yo (40%, Waitrose, bottled 1999)

Waitrose Millennium Single Malt Whisky 21 yo (40%, Waitrose, bottled 1999)
Waitrose is in fact a famously ‘center class’ grocery store within the UK which frequently has its personal particular, or ‘one off’ merchandise corresponding to this one. This can be a random bottle I picked up at public sale just lately because of the reality the rear label states that it was ‘distilled on Orkney’. So, theoretically that is a kind of ‘Orkney malts’ that actually may very well be Scapa or Highland Park. Though, mentions of ‘peat smoke’ and ‘iodine’ would counsel the latter… Color: straw. Nostril: heather honey, seashore pebbles, and certainly, a wee thready hint of peat smoke. That smoke turns into slightly louder and extra dominant with time, the entire additionally turns into extra drying and coastal. It’s extremely charming and really ‘Island’ regardless of affected by the measly ABV. Mouth: dry, barely cardboardy peat smoke, moist wool, salted honey, camphory touches. Loads to get pleasure from, I simply get the impression the low ABV and a while in bottle could have robbed it of some muscle and freshness. End: medium, smoked teas, dried flowers, camphors and slated honeys once more. Feedback: my guess can be HP. However that is form of mute actually. A random and obscure outdated curiosity that will work very nicely for some lazy tumbler sipping. Disgrace concerning the 40%, a couple of levels extra energy would actually have elevated this one I feel. 
SGP: 454 – 82 factors. 



Scapa 8 yo (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s)

Scapa 8 yo (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late Seventies)
The 100 proof batches might be actually wonderful, these outdated 40% variations are typically a bit extra wobbly in my expertise although. Color: gold. Nostril: I discover this acquainted ‘heather honey’ high quality that I affiliate with Scapa, but in addition a somewhat industrial aspect with impressions of mechanical oils and toolbox rags, then additionally aged natural liqueurs corresponding to some very outdated Benedictine. A number of leathery touches and concepts of medicinal roots. Superb truly and fairly charismatic. Mouth: falls slightly flat or arrival right here, there’s loads to get pleasure from with these medical rooty notes once more and natural teas, however there’s additionally this sense of OBE, slightly cardboard and a normal feeling of fatigue. I additionally discover a barely burnt orange word which appears like caramel to me. A well-known story with various outdated 40% younger G&M bottlings from this period. End: brief, tea-ish, barely candy, medicinal and total a bit flat. Feedback: a disgrace because the nostril was truly very promising. I believe this one did not journey too nicely in bottle. 
SGP: 533 – 74 factors. 



Scapa 12 yo (40%, OB, 1990s)

Scapa 12 yo (40%, OB, Nineties)
Color: gold. Nostril: golden syrup on soda bread. This acquainted feeling of honeyed sweetness, smooth bready notes including some richness after which cereals, beers, moist grains and dried flowers. Mushy and straightforward however not missing in character – just a bit let down by 40% and possibly slug of caramel. Mouth: nice, however slightly weak. Some good notes of natural teas, flower honey, white bread, muesli and sunflower oil. However once more this sense of low energy and a somewhat mashy, cooked grain vibe. End: brief, some biscuity sweetness, digestives dunked in darjeeling tea with sugar after which slightly natural bitterness within the aftertaste. Feedback: It is humorous, these bottlings, together with the 16yo that got here after, had been highly regarded choices in wine retailers like Oddbins (I keep in mind promoting many on the time once I labored there round 2006). However tasting them now I am left with the sensation that they contained a stunning base whisky that was let down by lack of curiosity and brutalistic bottling practices. 

SGP: 431 – 77 factors.





Scapa 10 yo 2006/2017 (59.2%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Assortment’, cask #2173, 1st fill sherry butt, 888 bottles)
I feel it is a somewhat cool sequence, however I am not a fan of 50cl bottles which I really feel are a bit fiddly. Color: amber. Nostril: a giant, somewhat punchy sherry bomb. Plenty of jams, treacle, sticky toffee pudding, dry earthiness and chocolate. Additionally some mirabelle eau de vie and wild strawberry notes coming by. With water: a tad brutal because it turns into even drier and on issues like earth, espresso grounds, snapped twigs, clay and coal mud. A wee freeze dried raspberry including a glimmer of sunshine aid. Mouth: a barely surprising profile that goes extra in direction of herbs, roots and issues like black pepper, pure tar, camphor and prune eau de vie. Additionally somewhat mulchy and drying which is in step with this explicit type of somewhat punchy sherry. With water: slightly simpler now, darkish grained breads, milk chocolate, roasted nuts, wooden spices and cloves. End: fairly lengthy, bitterly natural, sooty, calmly tarry and medicinal. Feedback: a ‘take no prisoners’ type of sherry that is slightly too brutal for me at instances, however I am certain followers of this explicit type will lap this up. Technically spectacular little question. 
SGP: 472 – 85 factors. 



Scapa 12 yo 2003/2015 (58.5%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Assortment, casks #9-12 & 14-16, 2148 bottles)
Color: pale gold. Nostril: a stunning and extremely refreshing profile, numerous moist seashore pebbles, linens, chalk, white flowers and that acquainted heather honey vibe. Impressively sharp, contemporary, pure and pure. I additionally discover some beautiful agency cereal notes and wee touches of fennel and lime. With water: nonetheless a beautiful freshness about it, white flowers, white fruits, citrus zests, gentle fruit teas and crisp notes of inexperienced apple and gooseberry. Mouth: slightly sweeter up entrance, extra on citrus curds, white flowers and pollens, sweeter cereal notes, olive oil, overripe yellow plums and lime cordial. With water: lemon infused olive oil, dried mango and pineapple chunks, soda bread and starched linens. End: medium in size and once more somewhat pure, contemporary and centered on cereals, pebbles, dried herbs and breads. Feedback: a stunning Scapa, some barely sweeter incursions from the wooden right here and there on the palate, however total that is all about freshness and pure flavours. 
SGP: 551 – 86 factors. 



Scapa 12 yo 2006/2018 (61.1%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Assortment’, cask #674, 1st fill butt, 828 bottles)
Color: rosy amber. Nostril: a somewhat trendy and jammy sherry profile that is extra about wooden than sherry. It is clear wooden, however it’s rathe assertive with these lactone and spice notes. Beneath that although there are loads good notes of sultanas, strawberry jam, fig paste and treacle cake. In reality these somewhat straightforward, juicy qualities turn into extra outstanding with time. With water: jam and ham! Certainly, these barely gamey, leathery, meat inventory vibes come by clearly right here. Together with these pink fruit discount notes. Mouth: spiced darkish fruits, cherry bakewell cake, plums stewed in Armagnac and notes of clove and wintergreen. Huge, spicy, trendy whisky, however very clear and juicy. With water: chocolate sauce, a touch of chilli powder and boozy fruit cake. End: good size and with lots of chocolate, espresso and natural wines. Feedback: these are enjoyable however somewhat tiring whiskies, I additionally really feel just like the Scapa character has been considerably eradicated by these huge beastly casks, which is a little bit of a disgrace. Now, as I discussed above, they continue to be technically excellent in my opinion. 
SGP: 561 – 86 factors.



Scapa 15 yo 2001/2017 (53.5%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Assortment’, cask #663, 1st fill barrel, 312 bottles)
Color: pale gold. Nostril: we’re again in the identical territory of that bourbon cask 12yo: considerable freshness, linens, citrus, pebbles and chalk. Right here it is also a tad greener and extra herbaceous with issues like pollens and vase water extra outstanding up entrance. That is actually my kind of Scapa, I might take this any day over and above these huge sherry brutes. With water: a beautiful heathery vibe with extra pollens, linens, fruit teas and dried herbs. ‘Aromatic’ can be the phrase. Mouth: syrupy and candy right here, with the cask clearly having a voice, however this focus has additionally produced some beautiful inexperienced and unique fruit cordial notes. Lemon curd, citrus jams, smooth waxy and peppery notes and a wee coastal flower vibe within the background. With water: juicy yellow fruits now, additionally slightly guava and mango, some stout beer and notes of clove and wintergreen. End: lengthy, peppery, natural and honeyed. Feedback: Scapa is such curious make, it might have very clear and beautiful persona and charisma, but appears to be extraordinarily delicate and tough to pin down nicely in bottle. Anyway, this one actually works, a stunning choice and a vastly charming wee whisky. 
SGP: 551 – 88 factors.



Scapa 23 yo 1992/2015 (58.4%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Assortment’, cask #1069, butt, 780 bottles)
Color: pale amber. Nostril: immediately you are feeling that is an older profile of sherry cask, that is extra on leathers, waxes, mineral oils and smooth notes of preserved darkish fruits. Some liquorice, aged mead, ice cider and impressions of very outdated Fins Bois cognac. A stunning nostril up to now. With water: water brings out extra fruits corresponding to sultanas, wild strawberry, plums and a few natural liqueur notes too. Mouth: prunes, dates, fudge, recreation meat inventory, Maggi, salted liquorice and natural bitters. Highly effective however on the identical time properly detailed with fairly particular flavours in stability. Will get more and more gamey and leathery with extra tobacco and chocolate points. With water: rancio, walnut, natural bitters and recreation meats. End: lengthy, with wooden spices, extra leathery notes, natural bitters, aniseed, citrus and treacle. Feedback: It is a completely completely different type to the later sherry casks we simply tried, however I really feel it is across the identical ballpark when it comes to high quality. I simply discover the Scapa DNA very exhausting to pin down in these. Now, in and of itself it is a very nice drop with slightly extra soul than a number of the others. 
SGP: 462 – 86 factors



Because of Iain D for making this session doable.


More tasting notesTest the index of all Scapa we have tasted to date









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