Tag Archive: Scapa

Scapa: Skiren (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Slightly darkened gold. Slow thick sheet of steaks comes from the spirit.

Nose: Pears. Warming alcohol. Honey. Pencil shavings. Vanilla yogurt chunks. Apples. Vanilla toffee. Jelly babies. Water lightens the alcohol and makes very clean.

Body: Smooth but warming. Honey. Light praline. Sweet nuts. Oak touch. Apples. Slightly oily. Vanilla yogurt. Water makes clean and light. Orange notes. Bready. Pears. Slight wisp of smoke.

Finish: Brown bread. Clear honey. White chocolate. Dry. Oak. Tinned tropical fruit. Salt touch. Water adds dry rice. Slight sulphur. Mostly clean. More white chocolate. Wet rocks.

Conclusion: Only my second visit to the whisky that is Scapa and this is a fairly gentle one for a whisky from the Islands. Though admittedly that is a fairly varied area. Also, when I say gentle I only mean flavour wise – it has a mildly alcohol character that needs a touch of water to deal with it. I’m guessing from it being a no age statement whisky and the character that it has a touch of the younger whisky in it.

With just the tiniest drop of water it becomes very smooth mid body though more than a drop makes it too light. So, take just a drop and you get vanilla yogurt, green fruit and tinned tropical fruits over a honey touch. Very bourbon influenced, and a very gentle take, with just a lightly oily and sulphurous undertone for weight and Island character.

It always has a slightly young feel about it though, especially in the finish which develops a dry rice note over time, which is not great. Still, in general a decent whisky, just one with a few rough edges. Smooth overall and in general this is a great one to show the influence of bourbon ageing – the influence just booms through. It does feel like the younger spirit hurts though – it has so much good stuff in the lighter, smoother, easy drinking style that the rough edges really hurt its main appeal. In general I can dig rough edges in a whisky, but they work better in bigger, booming whisky – though this has a few of the rougher island characteristics in a pleasing way as well – some salt and wet rocks, just very subtly done as a backdrop to the bourbon style.

Decent, not a must have but decent – a tad more polish and this would be a good island take on the easy sipper with just a pinch of weight – doesn’t quite reach there but close.

Background: Scapa, bloody hell been a while since I had my one and only experience of Scapa. An Orkney Island distillery with a fairly small output if I remember rightly. So was very cool when my parents came back from Scotland and brought me this bottle of 100% first fill American Oak (so I presume bourbon casks) aged Scapa. Many thanks. Went with Svalbard: Gone Tomorrow as music for drinking to. Not much to add, this as my second Scapa, is where I try to try and start working out what parts of the spirit are distillery character and what is ageing and other such touches that alter that base.

Gordon and Macphail: Scapa 1993 (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 11 Years: 40% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed grain.

Viscosity: Slow but thick streaks with some areas coming down in sheets.

Nose: Toffee, quite smooth. Vanilla. Touch of banana. Slight noticeable alcohol. Grain. Water makes for a distinctly more floral whisky.

Body: Big golden syrup comes in after several moments of distinctly light front. Toffee. Water adds sugared almonds, chocolate and honeycomb.

Finish: Charring and chocolate. Truffles. Slight rum filled chocolate liquors.  Water makes even more chocolate filled, but into a drier end. Buttered malt loaf, hint of syrup, lime and chocolate orange.

Conclusion: This is a really sweet whisky, with lots of chocolate, syrup and a very smooth texture. A big counterpoint to the stereotype of the harsh and briny island whisky, and very different to its island brother Highland Park.

This would get sickly fast as the only drink you have for an entire night, but does work well as a one off. It is all sweet flavours with nigh nothing offsetting it.

I did enjoy this as a simple and joyful whisky, distinctly non complex.  It plays with a similar chocolate finish as Bowmore 15 but without the slight harsher edge that keeps that one so very interesting

A cheerful whisky, but not a favourite,

Background: Oddly the bottle lists this as Highland Whisky, when research says this is from the Orkney Islands, the same islands that house the Highland Park distillery.  This particular bottling being matured in Refill Sherry American Casks.  I’ve seen Scapa whisky in the pubs a few times, but have never sampled it before today. Possibly due to the remarkably bland labelling never really catching the eye or the imagination.

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