It was named Whisky of the Year at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition last year. Or more accurately, the Glen Scotia 25 Years was awarded Best in Show in the whiskey category. Either way, that’s quite an achievement, no matter your feelings towards whisky awards.
Not long after, I spoke at length with master distiller Iain McAlister, who was rightly proud. “When you consider the wider team, it’s been fantastic, an absolutely wonderful achievement. A lot of hard work went into this. I think it’s a just reward. For me personally, it’s been great. I started at the place when it was falling down. It was in pieces. There were only three of us there. There was no way it was going to win the World’s Best Whisky of the Year [then]. So, it is remarkable how far we’ve come in a short period of time. I’m completely humbled by the whole episode.”
“I think the 25-year-old does remarkably well because of its simplicity. We talked about that subtle robustness and coastal, maritime effect, which is exactly what you get with the 25-year-old. As a general rule, the whisky at Glen Scotia work very well with the bourbon influence. The flavour profile is absolutely amazing. If you get a top-notch bourbon cask maturation it really works well. That’s what has happened with the 25-year-old.”
The Glen Scotia 25 Years has been around for a while, and some people had caught on early (like Matt). Not me though. While I’ve been enjoying Glen Scotia for a long time, and have often thought the distillery underrated (not the case anymore), I’d never gotten around to the Glen Scotia 25 Years. I thought it was too expensive. And at the time it probably was. After all, 250 quid stretched a lot further five years ago. So, no regrets.
Glen Scotia 25 Years (48.8%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Very elegant and gentle. Warm apple sauce, corn syrup, stewed pears and barley husks with a slight medicinal edge, citrus and touches of aniseed. Also cinnamon buns, tobacco leaves and old leather, as well as subtle notes of wet pebbles and ozone. Maybe even some hessian. Taste: An oily mouthfeel that’s very satisfying. Lemon zest with very gentle earthy peat and touches of resin. There’s just a tinge of white pepper, fudge and menthol, as well as hints of chalk and polished leather. Clearly a very refined single malt that’s wonderfully representative of the Campbeltown region. Finish: Lingering mineral notes, wood smoke and orchard fruits. Medium in length.
The Glen Scotia 25 Years is an extremely well-polished single malt. Layered, sophisticated and bottled at just the perfect strength. There's enough character and flavour, but it's never too aggressive. This goes down a treat.