Glen Scotia is perhaps not the most famous of Campbeltown’s malts, nor is it particularly well known amongst casual whisky drinkers but that could all be about to change in the next few years…
Glen Scotia was founded in 1832 and has largely been in production ever since (discounting a few short closures). New ownership arrived in 2014 in the shape of the Loch Lomond Group who have since invested heavily in the onsite facilities and relaunched the malt with a newly branded core range.
I paid a visit to Campbeltown recently with the intention of touring Springbank but it would have been a crying shame not to stop by Glen Scotia as well. It was a little tough to organise and took a few emails and phonecalls to get things confirmed but this is a very traditional distillery for whom running public tours is a little new.
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 whiskies 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 Stillman 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 which gave us the opportunity to taste four drams 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 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 produced here. At cask strength these were robust, engaging and flavoursome drams.
Back at the shop we were taken through the three malts that make up the core range – the Double Cask, the 15 Year Old and the Victoriana. Each is bottled at 46% without chill filtering and at natural colour which in itself is a sure sign that things are going in the right direction. Any of the three drams would have been more than welcome in my collection but instead, I opted for something a little different – a peated single malt that was one of just 410 bottles from a single cask. Distilled on the 22nd April 2002 and bottled 28th July 2011 at 45% abv.
On the nose there’s Seaweed and Brine, Malt, Vanilla and Lemon. There’s Grassy Smoke, Charcoal, Ash and Barbecue Smoke. The palate meanwhile is all about Malt, Salt and Smoke with Vanilla, Honey and Lemon, Brine, Wood Smoke and a note of Liquorice right at the end.
Smell: This is right up my street – smokey and maritime.
Taste: Perhaps not as strong as the nose, or at least not as complex but nicely balanced and an altogether lovely dram.
Value for Money: I paid a very reasonable £42 for this. For a single cask whisky, one of only 410 bottles, that’s incredibly good value. The bottling strength of 45% ABV is a bit of a strange one in a single cask but it doesn’t affect the quality.
Score: 44 / 50. About the Scoring System
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.