Glen Scotia is the other Campbeltown distillery (Springbank being the Campbeltown distillery). I know very little about them and have tasted about as much. They don’t have the best reputation among whisky geeks but none of the (few) Glen Scotias I’ve tasted have been bad and the only other “older” one I’ve had I quite liked. That was this Archives bottling, also, as it happens, a 20 yo. Unlike that one this is from a sherry cask. Will it be as good? I hope so.
I also know very little about Wilson & Morgan, the bottler this is from and this is the first of their releases that I’ve ever tried. They’re an Italian outfit and as far as I can make out from their website they’ve been around for about 20 years and their owner is a sharp dresser. Why Wilson & Morgan if they’re Italian? Probably for the same reason that Indian whiskies have names like Peter Scot and Bagpiper. Anyway, let’s get to it.
Glen Scotia 20, 1991 (44.2%; butt #1; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Rich sherry notes right off the bat (figs, raisins, plum, leather); gets stickier very quickly with maple syrup, light toffee and caramel. Not much oak at first but with a little more time there’s a little bit of spice (cinnamon) and a note somewhere between polished oak, tobacco and (mild) gunpowder. Water flattens the nose considerably (no surprise given the abv): toffee and milk chocolate now,
Palate: Weaker on the palate and more jumbled. The mouthfeel gives the low abv away and the sharper notes are more in evidence. The fruit is less rich and less pronounced (mostly raisins with a bit of dried orange peel). With more time, however, it gather a bit more weight: some pipe tobacco, dried mushroom liquor (if you’ve reconstituted dried shiitakes this will be meaningful to you) and more of the dried orange peel. Can’t imagine water will do very much for the palate but in the interests of science let’s add some. And indeed water does nothing for it.
Finish: Medium. The oak and spice are the main story here and it’s somewhat drying towards the end. A little sweeter with water.
Comments: A lovely nose but a bit of a letdown on the palate: not bad but a bit generic. Anyway, none of the “dirty” notes that Glen Scotia is known for are apparent here, and it’s not very much like the Archives bottle either. By the way, I was surprised to see on the Wilson & Morgan site that this apparently got a Gold Medal from the Malt Maniacs in 2012 but that can’t have been true considering the average score on the Monitor is 87 points—I can’t go that high either.
Rating: 85 points.
Any word on whether this is (a low) cask strength, or diluted down to (a random) 44.2%?
The bottler’s notes (linked in the “Comment” section of my review) suggest that the strength dropped naturally. I agree with them that the nose is akin to that of older sherried malts but couldn’t find all the fruit they mentioned. This was actually quite reminiscent of the G&M Glen Grant 21 at 40%—I should really post my notes of that one soon.