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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 18, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Scapa in triplicate
Scapa is a bit of a bewildering distillery in my book. It seems to me that, if you are blessed with a distillery somewhere as incredible as Orkney, you might as well make the effort to make a characterful distillate that befits its origins. However, I tend to find many contemporary examples a tad ‘flat’. Now, as we’ll discover today, older examples can be pretty spectacular...


Scapa 2001/2014 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Ship Label) Scapa 2001/2014 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Ship Label)
Colour: White wine. Nose: A curious combination of grass and mustard seed with vanilla and some green apple behind it. A splash of limoncello, some white flowers and a little mineral edge as well. Quite pleasant. Moves towards marc de gewurtz and hints of lychee after a while. Mouth: surprisingly dry and malty. A dusty kind of maltiness, floury grist, some chiselled chenin, lemon rind, a little olive oil and some yellow flowers and ripe plums.  Still surprisingly good I feel - I’m not really that excited by Scapa these days generally. Continues with more crisp cereals, some violets and a spoonful of salty porridge. Finish: medium length and full of fresh malt, lemon barley water and cider apple peelings. Comments: I find this a surprisingly quaffable and characterful Scapa, it has something of the sea about it at times which I always find I crave in Scapa but so rarely encounter. I certainly enjoy this purer style than most of the official oak-doped bottlings these days. If ever there was a distillery which should be better...
SGP: 551 - 86 points.


Scapa 28 yo 1977/2006 (59.4%, Duncan Taylor, cask #2832, 186 bottles)

Scapa 28 yo 1977/2006 (59.4%, Duncan Taylor, cask #2832, 186 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: good! Salted caramel, again this suggestion of aged chenin, some honey, pollen and aged mead. Develops a nicely heathery and floral aspect as well. Some sweet plum wine, oatcakes, orange blossom and sweetened mascarpone. All very lovely but perhaps lacking a sense of definition. With water: lime boiled sweeties, barley sugar and quite a few lemony notes such as curds and lemon drizzle icing. Mouth: there’s more honey and plenty perfectly nice fresh cereals, some buttery toast, more mead, a hint of vegetable stock and a rather good heathery quality but it also still feels slightly flat and kind of ‘mono’. There’s even a touch of cardboard about it I find. A wee nibble of white pepper. With water: geraniums and other flowers, some vase water, carbon paper, ointments, tea tree oil and a lick of soot. Perhaps some cornflour and a little vanilla as well. Finish: The length is moderate and perfectly fine but again it’s a little flat. Some brown bread and custardy notes. Comments: I always want to like Scapa which makes scoring some of these older ones rather tough, especially when, like this one, they can be a tad ‘MOTR’. Still, it’s a perfectly drinkable old drop, it just lacks the necessary character and oomph.
SGP: 541 - 82 points.



Scapa 1958/1985 (46%, Samaroli, 180 bottles) Scapa 1958/1985 (46%, Samaroli, 180 bottles)
I think it’s safe to say that this one is - to borrow an expression from our New York friends - a ‘unicorn’. Colour: Gold. Nose: A plunge pool full of honeys, nectars, pollens, polished hardwoods, waxes, fruit syrups, sea air, yellow Chartreuse, old mead, nutmeg, almond oil, wood resins, old earthen floor wine cellars and some very old Sauternes (let’s say 1900). The kind of nose you could write a novel about. It keeps evolving and changing and developing and constantly throwing up endless tertiary complexities. Just totally stunning. The way it veers between delicate peat, coastal aspects and waxier more resinous and fruit characteristics is the very definition of compelling in malt whisky. Mouth: an astonishing cocktail of saline peats, pure citrus fruit rinds, waxes, hardwood resins and then all these kinds of yellow wild flowers, sunflower seeds, toasted cereals and light autolytic, bready notes. There’s mushroom powder, sea air, umami paste, dried mango and pineapple syrup. I feel we should simply relent and fall back on the anti-maltoporn brigade... Finish: Endless; honeyed; menthol; coastal; sticky with wax; stunning! Comments: It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, these kinds of bottlings by the late Silvano S Samaroli were so often liquid poetry such as this. There is a 52% version bottled at the same time that is the same whisky bottled at 46% and full strength. Anyone who doubts the more visionary aspects of Samaroli’s attitude to bottling whisky and thinks of him as just a guy ‘there at the right time’ should bear in mind these kinds of details.
SGP: 762 - 95 points.







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