I have had very little Scapa and reviewed even less (only this old, long discontinued 12 yo). There doesn’t seem to be very much indie Scapa around these days—Whiskybase lists only two independent releases from 2015 and only another two from 2014. It’s not the case that there was once an ocean of indie Scapa sloshing around but the releases seem to have slowed to a trickle a few years ago. As the owners show little interest in official releases this means it’s mostly being reserved for blends (which is, of course, the case for many distilleries). The only steady official releases have been in the excellent Cask Strength Edition series from Chivas Bros.—500 ml bottles, small batch rather than single cask, I believe, and originally available only at the distilleries. This sample is from one of those, released in 2013 (many an excellent Glenburgie and Longmorn have also been released in this series). Let’s see what it it’s like.
Scapa 20, 1993 (58.6%; Batch SC 20 007; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Honey, pastry crust and malt. Gets sweeter almost immediately and then there’re are more acidic notes: lime peel, gooseberry, tart apple. A little bit of white pepper as well. More cereal notes with time and some brine too. Water brightens it up considerably, with a big shot of citronella and a lot more pepper. The citrus notes get quite musky and there are some berries and cream hiding behind them.
Palate: Sweet to start but then a lot of acid and pepper. On the second sip there’s a bubblegum sweetness and also a slight metallic quality. Gets more limey as it goes and with time the oak begins to become more apparent. Drinkable enough neat but I think this needs water to open it up. Water reins the oak back in, knocks back the metallic quality and brings better balance but doesn’t bring out any new notes.
Finish: Long. Very peppery at first; after a while the lime pops up earlier. Less peppery with water and better balanced here too.
Comments: As you can see from the picture, this sample was drawn from the very bottom of the bottle, and so it’s not probably a very representative guide to what it was like in its prime. I can say that it still packed a lot of oomph: the high strength and the smaller bottle probably have something to do with that. Very much in line with the profile of the old 12 yo, but much better.
Rating: 85 points.
Thanks to Nick S. for the sample!