Glen Scotia is the other Campbeltown distillery, in the shadow of Springbank. The reputation of Glen Scotia’s malt has been more down than up among whisky geeks; and until recently they had not offered very much by way of variety either. Then came a sudden reboot and a series of shockingly ugly bottles. I’m not sure what the quality of the whisky inside those is but this bottle from Archives (the label of the Whiskybase boys) is very good. It was a big hit at our local group’s December tasting.
Glen Scotia 20, 1992 (50.4%; Archives, hogshead 08/71; from my own bottle)
As Whiskybase only released 80 bottles some other bottler must have got the rest. Something to keep in mind if you own this and are also enticed by another Glen Scotia 20, 1992 that does not specify the cask number.
Nose: Sour, farmy peat, minerally and mossy with whiffs of engine oil and mustard. Gets increasingly briny but there’s something sweet about it too. With more time there’s an inky, leathery quality and more salt crystals than brine. A drop of water brightens up the nose and now there’s citrus here too (lime and a bit of grapefruit)
Palate: Leads with soot and brine and then there’s a rich minerally sweetness. Expanding salt on the palate too and expanding smoke as well. Austere and direct. Very nice mouthfeel. A lot of graphite and ink on the second and third sips and more of a leafy, vegetal note. With more time there’s some bitter lime zest. This does not call out for water but let’s add some in the interest of science. With water there’s a chalkiness and then increasing bitterness (the lime zest again).
Finish: Medium. No new development as such. Water lengthens the finish a bit and emphasizes the lime zest and chalk.
Comments: I don’t have enough money to drink Cambeltown malts from earlier eras and so cannot comment on whether this is a traditional Campbeltown profile or not; but it is certainly quite old-school–it has more in common with the 1970s lightly peated Highland malts that I’ve tried than with most contemporary malts. That said, and contra my usual skepticism about terroir, it also has a lot of intersection with the profile of contemporary Longrows. This is perfect whisky for when it is -1f/-18c out, as it is in southern Minnesota tonight (this was tasted in late December).
Rating: 87 points.