Thursday, 10 September 2009

Scapa distillery

Scapa Distillery
St Ola, Kirkwall
Orkney KA15 1SE

Islands, Scotland - Active

Flavour profile

Lots of sour (and unusual, at least in whisky) tropical fruits in Scapa, among them pineapple, grapefruit, tomatoes, pomeloes, papaya and even coconut. All this is wreathed in peat, and occasionally, something sweet like cocoa, or syrup. Fruit flavours are always good in a whisky, and Scapa has a lot of interesting ones. If this were wine, it would be white, from an excellent vineyard. Not bad for a distillery that was, once upon a time, worked only when the people at Highland Park had a spare moment.

Scapa whisky is generally tangy, perhaps slightly sour, although the latest official expression, the 16 yo, is quite sweet. There are occasional reminders of the distillery's proximity to the sea, with the odd whiff of sea salt.

All the Scapas I've tasted so far are here.

Scapa 12 yo - good
Scapa 14 yo - good
Scapa 23 yo 1978/2001 - good
Scapa 16 yo - very good

Distillery history

Founded in 1885 by John Townsend, Scapa was owned by the founder's eponymous company until about 1919, when it was bought by a consortium. Then it passed through various hands until it ended up with Allied Domecq. It was nearly sold to a third party after Allied's merger with Pernod Ricard, but Pernod hung on to it in the end. The distillery was silent from 1934-1936 and again from 1939-1945. From 1994 it was operated on a part-time basis by employees of Highland Park.

There's a limited official range - a 12 yo and a 14 yo. Very recently, the 14 yo was discontinued to be replaced by a 16 yo. Scapa malt is part of Ballantine's.

Potted distillery facts

Water source: Lingro Burn, a source of peaty soft water
Six, stainless steel, 21,548 litres each
Wash stills:
One, ex-Lomond still, 13,500 litres
Spirit stills: One, normal neck, 12,563 litres
Spirit still Lyne arm: Bent s-shape
Production per year:
1,000,000 litres

- The Scottish Whisky Distilleries, Misako Udo

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