It’s all go in Campbeltown at the moment with the announcement last month that plans for North Star Spirits’ Dál Riata distillery have been approved. This was preceded in May by the news that Glasgow-based independent whisky bottler and blender Brave New Spirits has planning permission for a new distillery called Witchburn, and then there’s Machrihanish, from the people who brought you the Isle of Raasay distillery, which is due to open in 2025.
So soon the number of working distilleries will have doubled from three to six. But if you want whisky now, you’ll have to visit the old guard Springbank, Glengyle, and Glen Scotia distilleries. All three make superb whisky, though Springbank releases are so in-demand that they seem to sell out before they hit the shelves. Glengyle too with its Kilkerran range is increasingly hard to come by, there’s no more of the excellent 12 Year Old to go around. And this latest release we have from Glen Scotia is also likely to be heavily in demand.
Introducing Glen Scotia The Mermaid
It’s called Glen Scotia The Mermaid and it’s the first in the distillery’s new Icons of Campbeltown series. It’s a 12-year-old unpeated single malt aged first in bourbon casks before being treated to a finishing period in palo cortado sherry casks. This is a very unusual and rarely seen type of sherry that has the flavour of an amontillado but with the body of an oloroso. It’s a dry style, so you’re not going to get the sherry bomb sweetness that most of us expect from a sherry cask whisky. There’s also a salty edge which accentuates the classic maritime character of Glen Scotia – see the full tasting note below. It’s bottled at cask strength, 54.1% ABV.
Iain McAlister, distillery manager and master distiller at Glen Scotia, explained further:
“The Mermaid is a wonderful release that serves as a reminder of the sea and tropical climate that shape our award-winning whisky. Our local community has played a huge role in the survival and re-emergence of whisky-making in Campbeltown, and the market cross remains an important historic symbol of that enduring spirit. We’re all proud to be able to release a series of single malt whiskies that pays homage to those that have supported us on the journey. Equally our Glen Scotia community has grown beyond Scotland to fans all over the world, and I’m excited to see what they make of this adventurous unpeated limited edition, as well as to see what future releases bring.”
The mermaid comes to life!
Not only is the taste distinctly coastal, but the packaging could not be any more coastal. It’s inspired by a mediaeval carving of a mermaid in the market cross area of Campbeltown itself, or ‘wee toon’ as it is known by locals. The striking illustration on the whisky’s packaging is by Joel Holtzman, an artist who has worked with Marvel and LucasFilm. But the fun doesn’t end there because there is a QR code which takes you to an animation and storybook that bring the mermaid herself to life. So modern! All great fun though we think Master of Malt customers are probably more interested in the contents of the bottle which are, happily, absolutely first rate. Here’s what we thought.
Tasting note from The Chaps at Master of Malt:
Nose: Sweet flavours of toffee, cinnamon and chocolate with fresh sea spray and orange peel.
Palate: Thick and creamy with molasses, brazil nuts, more toffee and distinct salty character.
Finish: Long and nutty with a sherried tang.
Glen Scotia The Mermaid 12 Year Old ( Icons of Campbeltown) is available from Master of Malt. Click on link for prices and to buy.