Scapa, Soggily

We had incredible luck with weather in Scotland this year. Last June, it rained a lot on both Skye and Islay. This year we spent two weeks in Edinburgh, the Speyside, the northern highlands and Orkney and encountered only two days with rain worth noting; one was our last day, on our drive back from the highlands to Edinburgh. The other was our first full day on Orkney. The day started out nice and sunny and we had a lovely time visiting Skara Brae and the breathtaking cliffs at Yesnaby. It started raining lightly after lunch but it didn’t bother us as we walked across the low tide path to the Brough of Birsay (utterly stunning). By the time we got to the Ring of Brodgar it had begun to piss down and as the family grew damper their enthusiasm for being out also dampened. Accordingly, I dumped them back at our B&B (the highly recommended Foinhaven farmhouse) circa 4 pm and went off by myself to take a look at Scapa, just about 15 minutes away. It was drizzling throughout, it was not far from closing time and so I did not linger or even think about a tour. Here is a quick look courtesy my cellphone camera.   Continue reading


Scapa 20, 1993, Cask Strength Edition

Scapa 20, 1993
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.  Continue reading

Scapa 12

Scapa 12
Last week I referred to Glen Scotia as the other Campbeltown distillery. Here now is a malt from the other Orkney distillery, Scapa, who labour in the shadow of Highland Park. It is operated by Chivas Brothers, themselves part of Pernod-Ricard’s portfolio (you can find out more about the distillery at Malt Madness). I’ve not had very much of Scapa’s output in the past and so it’s appropriate that my first review of Scapa’s whisky should be of a general release distillery bottling (they don’t show up much from the indies anyway); and an entry-level bottling at that. However, this is not the current entry-level Scapa: that is a 16 yo, which replaced a 14 yo in 2008; that in turn had replaced this 12 yo in 2004 (they may have upped the age with each iteration but they’ve all stayed at 40%). So, if you’re one of those people who grumble that I don’t review enough entry-level whisky you can now grumble that I don’t review enough current entry-level whisky.  Continue reading