Scapa distillery was founded in 1885 in Kirkwall and named after Scapa Flow, a body of water surrounded by the Orkney Islands. The distillery sits just half a mile south of the most northern distillery in Scotland – Highland Park.
Scapa was built by Glasgow man John Townsend in order to supply spirit for blended whisky and it did just that until production was wound down and the distillery eventually closed in 1994. Things didn’t stay quiet for long however and Scapa relaunched just ten years later in 2004, releasing a 14 year old single malt onto the market.
The life of the distillery almost came to an end many years earlier however, when a mysterious fire tore through the building in 1919. This was during the First World War and the Royal Navy were based nearby in the Flow. It was one of their men who spotted the flames. The navy came to the rescue by the boatload and a human chain was formed from the beach to the distillery carrying water to tackle the flames. The cause of the fire remains unknown but without the quick actions of the men of the Royal Navy it could have been lost for ever.
A year after relaunching in 2004 the distillery was acquired by Pernod Ricard who upped the age of the main expression to 16 before building a visitor centre in 2015 and releasing a No Age Statement expression named ‘Skiren’ after the Old Norse for ‘Glittering Skies’.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 16.5 / 20. Honey, Cream and Malt intermingle with Apple and a touch of Almond. Altogether quite an appealing nose.
Taste: 16 / 20. Spicey and Woody with Biscuit, Nut and Honey again. Not quite as interesting as the nose but decent all the same.
Value for Money: 8 / 10. I picked this up for just over £30 in Travel Retail. Not disappointed at that price.
Overall: 40.5 / 50. When I see a No Age Statement whisky, bottled at 40% and priced around £30 I almost expect that it’s going to be a little weak, but I found this a decent and very drinkable dram. I’m looking forward to getting to know it better.