Thanks to you-know-what, none of the Scottish whisky festivals were held in 2020. Most distilleries released what would have been their festival bottles anyway. This would have been Glen Scotia’s at the Campbeltown festival. Was it their only festival release? I have to admit that I’ve not really tracked whisky festivals beyond Feis Ile very much; indeed, this may be my first review of a Campbeltown festival release (though I’m probably forgetting something). Unlike my last two official Glen Scotias (including the Double Cask and Monday’s Victoriana) this one has an age statement. It’s a 14 yo matured first in first-fill barrels and then finished in American oak hogsheads that had been treated with tawny port. How long in each container, I don’t know—if you do, please write in below. Will this be the first official Glen Scotia I like a lot? My track record with port-bothered whiskies would suggest that’s unlikely. But I’m famous for my open-mindedness. Let’s see what this one is like.
Glen Scotia 14, Tawny Port Finish (52.8%; for the 2020 Campbeltown Festival; from a bottle split)
Nose: A salty and meaty (ham brine) arrival with quite a bit of orange peel running through it as well. Gets brinier as it sits (ham and sea) and there’s a mix of spices (mustard, coriander seed) that puts me in mind of Springbank. Not much evidence of the port—not at first anyway. The nose gets more Springbank’ish with time. Fruitier as it goes with some red fruit—all very nicely integrated. Softer with a squirt of water with some cream, some toffee; the citrus moves in the direction of apricot.
Palate: All the stuff from the nose with pepper and a sweet layer that doesn’t separate but doesn’t seem fully integrated either. The meat is more charred than brined here. Quite approachable at full strength and it has nice thick texture. Sweeter as it goes and the port is more obvious but it’s also better integrated now. More wood char too now. Okay, let’s give it more time/air and then some water. Not too much change with time: a sweet mix of char and pepper. Softer with water (toffee, cream, malt) and sweeter but also less interesting.
Finish: Long. The pepper builds and dominates here. Glad to note that the wine doesn’t separate here either. The sweeter fruit carries through here with time. As on the palate with water.
Comments: As with the Victoriana, the nose is the best part of this whisky, Unlike with the Victoriana, however, the palate and finish in this case are both very good as well. I don’t know how long the port finish lasted but the wine is integrated well with the spirit and does not separate at any point. This is not a sweet red-fruit bomb. Indeed, the port seems to accentuate the peat (the latter manifesting both as pepper and meaty char). Okay, so the best parts of this are reminiscent of Springbank but it’s very good anyway. Still available and I would say almost worth the price (in today’s market) at £75 or so. If I had a bottle though I’d probably drink most of it neat.
Rating: 87 points.