Sharing Orkney with an attention seeking distillery like Highland Park, has made Scapa one of the most overlooked Island distilleries in Scotland. Really, name me another Island distillery as unknown as Scapa (and no, I’m not counting the few young modern distilleries).
To be perfectly honest though, the distillery has never given us much reason to pay attention. Their current core range is fine, but nothing that’ll set the world on fire. And for whichever reason, independent bottlings are scarce. So what are we to do as whisky enthusiasts? Maybe their low profile is not all that surprising after all.
Anyway, a few months ago, Gordon & MacPhail launched one of the more eye-popping Scapa whiskies in recent memory. At 30 years old, it has to be one of the oldest ever whisky’s from this distillery. Maybe this is the one to turn things around for Scapa?
Scapa 1988 30 Years Old (53.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, C#10585)
Nose: Quite soft and elegant, with a good amount of beeswax and polished oak, and notes of minerals and ozone, followed by pear skin and a hint of peaches, floral aromas, and hops. Mature and well-integrated. Taste: Pretty oaky, somewhat spicy and quite bitter, with hints of cotton candy and vanilla custard, but also notes of lime peel and peanuts. Whiffs of salt and chalk. Water makes it a tad more creamy, but enhances the oak. Finish: Lingering spices and bitterness.
I’m sorry to say it, but the overpowering bitterness on the palate somewhat ruins this Scapa for me. I enjoyed the nose, but the palate just doesn’t quite cut it.