Glen Scotia is perhaps not the most famous of malts, but I suspect that could all be about to change over the next few years…
The distillery was founded in 1832 and has largely been in production ever since (discounting a few short closures). New ownership arrived in 2014 however and the site has recently enjoyed significant investment as well as a complete rebranding of it’s single malt.
I paid a visit to Campbeltown recently with the intention of touring Springbank distillery, but it would have been a crying shame to miss out on seeing Glen Scotia as well. It was a little tricky to organise a visit, with a few emails back and forth, but this is a very traditional distillery, for whom public tours are rather new.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Callum, himself an 18 year Springbank veteran who had recently made the transition to Scotia. We could not have asked for a warmer welcome. Here was an excellent ambassador, not just for Glen Scotia, but for Campbeltown and it’s whisky in general.
We set off on a tour that covered each area of production taking place here, from milling and mashing to fermentation, distillation and aging. The distillery is attractive, if a little grubby in places (all the best ones are) and we were fortunate to spend some time chatting to Hector the Still-man about his work. It’s not every tour that you get the chance to chat with the men on the front line of production and it was our pleasure to run into Hector again the next day and talk some more. Like our host Callum, he clearly took pride in his work at Glen Scotia.
After the tour we enjoyed a tasting in one of the onsite warehouses, giving us the opportunity to taste four drams drawn straight from the cask. We tasted unpeated, medium peated and heavily peated malts, before finishing with a 1989 vintage. Glen Scotia is a whisky that has sometimes underwhelmed me in the past but these four drams convinced me that this was perhaps down to bottling choices made by previous owners rather than the inherent quality of the spirit itself, for at cask strength, this is a robust, engaging and flavoursome dram.
Back at the shop we were taken through the three malts that make up the core range – Double Cask, 15 Year Old and Victoriana. Each is bottled at 46% and natural colour, with no chill filtration. This in itself is a sure sign that things are heading in the right direction. Any of the three drams would have been more than welcome in my home collection but I opted instead, to purchase something a little different – a peated malt from a single cask, one of just 410 bottles. Distilled on the 22nd April 2002 and bottled 28th July 2011 at 45% abv.
Smell: Seaweed and Brine, Malt, Vanilla and Lemon. There’s Grassy Smoke, Charcoal, Ash and Barbecue Smoke.
Taste: Malt, Salt and Smoke with Vanilla, Honey and Lemon, Brine, Wood Smoke and a note of Liquorice right at the end.
Value for Money: A very reasonable £42 for the bottle. For a single cask whisky, one of only 410 bottles, that’s incredibly good value. The bottling strength of 45% ABV is low for a single cask but the quality is extremely high.
A very enjoyable dram – as was everything I tried at the distillery that day. Take my word for it, Glen Scotia is a whisky to watch.