As I am known for my highly timely reviews, I am pleased to present this review of a whisky whose existence I did not even know of until a few hours ago (as of this writing)—at which point I purchased a 50 ml sample immediately. It also turns out to be a whisky about which the world—or the part of it represented in Google search results and on Whiskybase—knows nothing. There are five whiskies with the name Skara Brae associated with them on Whiskybase but this is none of them. No, I purchased this at Skara Brae, the amazing neolithic archeological site on mainland Orkney—which you should really visit if you’re ever on Orkney (and take a detour from there to the Yesnaby cliffs on your way to wherever you’re going next). As you may know, almost every major tourist site in Scotland seems to have a branded whisky on offer (see here for last year’s disastrous mini purchase from Blair Castle), and this one, fittingly is described as an “Orkney Single Malt Whisky”. As neither possibility—Highland Park or Scapa—inspires fear and loathing, I decided to take a chance with £6. Let’s see if I would have been better of saving that money to buy a couple of pints of beer on the ferry back to Scrabster in a couple of days.
Skara Brae 10 (40%; from a purchased mini)
Nose: Lemon, mild peppery peat, eucalyptus. Not much else really with time. A bit of vanilla with water.
Palate: Leads with the peat and there’s a fair bit of it. Below it there’s the other stuff from the nose. Rather nice texture at full strength and a fair bit of bite too. The peat expands on the second sip and it’s more peppery now. With more time there’s some fruit below the pepper and peat, though I’m finding it hard to pick: over-ripe pear? Pricklier with water and the lemon turns preserved.
Finish: Medium-long. The peat and the pepper fade out together and the lemon emerges again at the end. The late-developing fruit from the palate lingers here too with time. Spicier with water and the preserved lemon is here too.
Comments: This seems like it’s almost certainly an ex-bourbon Highland Park—though I haven’t tasted any of Scapa’s new peated whisky, so who knows? At any rate, well worth the £6 but probably not the £56 for a full bottle—though it does Peck a surprising punch in its 40% abv.
Rating: 85 points.