This week is going to be one of treats for the kind of devoted whisky drinkers who read this blog. You probably noticed we kicked it off by launching an exclusive Daftmill whisky, which alone would be enough to satisfy Scotch fans for some time. But we’re not resting on our laurels with Daftmill. Instead, we’re following it up with even more exclusives ranging from Japanese whisky to a dram made by our neighbours in Kent.
Today, it’s Glen Scotia 8 Year Old 2014 (cask 21/655-9), and we couldn’t be happier. We love a bit of Campbeltown whisky. When you get a really good bottle from Glen Scotia, what you’re enjoying isn’t just a distinct flavour profile (smoke, sea, rich fruits etc.) with a unique appeal, but all that local whisky-making history.
Proud Campbeltown creators
We’ve covered the fifth official whisky-producing region in Scotland before, so we’ll just give you the cliff notes to recap. On the West Coast of Scotland in Argyll and Bute, Campbeltown was once the Victorian whisky capital of the world. It boasted over 27 legal distilleries during its 19th-century heyday, a startling achievement for a small town nestled on the Kintyre peninsula. Its harbour became an international hub, providing access to the finest casks and a conveyor belt for its own spirit to be spread among the world.
For a variety of reasons, the Campbeltown golden age ended and only three distilleries survived the tests of time. Glen Scotia, founded in 1832, is one and has slowly become the bedrock of the new renaissance. With its idiosyncratic, idealistic family-led approach and outstanding spirit, Springbank tends to get the spotlight. But Glen Scotia doesn’t get the credit it deserves for helping put Campbeltown on the map.
It’s far more ready to promote itself and Campbeltown than Springbank, which thrives on word of mouth, actually telling the story of its unique location and putting whisky in people’s hands at a consistent rate. Its neighbour might be desperately cool, but Glen Scotia does the hard yards and Campbeltown simply wouldn’t be the same without it.
Our own Glen Scotia is here!
It’s also something of a looker, sporting a Victorian townhouse vibe set among rolling green hills and pink cherry blossom trees. There’s two hives in the courtyard where Glen Scotia’s resident bees create delicious honey. Much of the original design dating from the 1830s has been maintained, including the traditional cast-iron mash tun, stillroom, and dunnage warehouse. Here, some 100,000 litres of whisky is made annually, with water being supplied from two wells below the distillery as well as Crosshill Loch and Scottish malted barley imported to an exact specification.
Glen Scotia produces both peated and non-peated whisky, with the former typically made over a period of six weeks per year, and makes both medium and heavy styles of peated whisky. The whole process is overseen by master distiller and Campbeltown native Iain McAlister, who has put his engineering background to good use over the years by methodically enhancing the Glen Scotia process. Fermentation in its nine stainless steel washbacks is longer, while distillation in two swan-necked stills is slower and more methodical.
It’s this approach that has created the impressive dram we have before us today. Glen Scotia 8 Year Old 2014 is an unpeated single malt, finished in a first-fill Pedro Ximénez hogshead. It was botted just for us this year at 56.8% ABV, and is a great demonstration of one of the things Glen Scotia does best: whisky at a young age. It’s not easy to make outstanding drams that haven’t been matured for that long, but island distilleries seem to do better than most and Glen Scotia is no exception. Having a rich, full-bodied, and developed distillery character pre-maturation goes a long way. This is bold, beautiful, and very reasonably priced if you ask me. I can’t imagine it will stick around long.
Glen Scotia 8 Year Old 2014 (cask 21/655-9) – Master of Malt Exclusive Cask is only available from Master of Malt. Click here to buy.
Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt
Nose: Layers of sticky dates and figs, fragrant spices, and fresh orchard fruits.
Palate: Charred brown sugar opens the way for cooked, spiced apples, flaky pastry, and sweet liquorice while dustings of nutmeg and crystalised ginger develop.
Finish: Juicy fig returns on the finish, with drizzles of dark honey and treacly molasses, backed up by sweet stewed fruits and mixed spices.