Scapa 16

$$$$ — 40% ABV — 16 Years

About as northerly as Scotch-making gets, Scapa is one of only two brands found on the isle of Orkney. Even in its manufacture, Scapa is truly an 'edge of the world' product: it has a very small operation, one wash and one still run on a rotation of only three men. Imagine the long hours at the still in the summertime, when the pale sun never sets and the cold wind never dies — just the "simmer dim" to tell you it's time for bed.

Scapa is a very shy whisky that reacts oddly to the elements. Offering time to breathe or a drop of water opens it up immensely, but too much and it shuts down. Best then not to let experience bog you down; be slow and have your tongue guide you. It's unfortunate the A.B.V. isn't higher, or perhaps this dram would have sturdier legs. As it is, Scapa can often feel like at any moment it might disappear faster than a fart through a kilt; but I dare say it smells much finer.

Jokes aside, there's a lot of complexity to enjoy. Despite not being peat-smoked, there is a note of earthiness to it that even peat-haters (shame on you) might enjoy, as well as a mild woodiness. Scapa's use of mineral water explains the former, the ex-bourbon barrels explaining the latter. The reservation in these flavors is key as it lets through maritime notes as well as sweet herb and subtle flowers.

The price is going to be a turn-off for some, which is fair. It's upsetting whenever an expensive whisky gets released at the legal minimum; it always foments questions of 'what if' but perhaps in the future Scapa (or more likely Pernod-Ricard) will see the light. Until then, the 16 remains a very complex and lighthearted dram perfect for summertime drinking.

Scapa is located near Kirkwall, Orkney in the Scottish North Sea. Founded in 1885 by MacFarlane & Townsend, it is now owned by Pernod-Ricard.

Flavor Notes

Honey / Date / Tarragon / Seasalt / Clover / Charred Oak / Peanut / Peat

Honey / Date / Tarragon / Seasalt / Clover / Charred Oak / Peanut / Peat