Glen Scotia 25 year old

Glen Scotia 25 year oldDistillery: Glen Scotia
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 25 years old
abv: 48.8%

Glen Scotia’s website proudly states that patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s an ingredient. Of course, no Glen Scotia whisky embodies this sentiment better than the distillery’s flagship 25 year old. Having rested in American oak for two and a half decades, the whisky is then married in first-fill bourbon casks, and bottled at an admirable 48.8%. With so much time spent in Quercus Alba, it’s unsurprising that this dram displays flavours of vanilla, toffee and touch of spice. The result is something that feels quite different, both compared to Glen Scotia’s range and other 25 year olds.

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Glen Scotia 15 year old

Glen Scotia 15 year oldDistillery: Glen Scotia
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 15 years old
abv: 46%

Oh! Campbeltown Loch I wish ye were whisky, Campbeltown Loch och aye!

With these words Scottish singer Andy Stewart famously celebrated the rich history of Campbeltown distilling. Perhaps I’m being ungrateful at entire water bodies being turned into whisky, but Stewart forgot to mention that if at all possible, that whisky ought to be Glen Scotia. For although countless Campbeltown distilleries have come and gone, Glen Scotia has somehow withstood the test of time. In the face of incredibly long odds, this can only be seen as a testament to the sheer quality of Glen Scotia’s whisky.

But even in recent years, much has changed, with Glen Scotia launching a completely revamped range. Sadly you’ll now have to imagine the Highland cows yourself (although I’ve saved you the trouble), but packaging aside, the new whiskies are stunning! To me, the 15 year old is the quintessential Glen Scotia, embodying all the qualities that make this distillery so exciting. Spicy yet smooth, rich yet robust, Glen Scotia 15 year old has it all. Slàinte!

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Glen Scotia Double Cask

Glen Scotia Double Cask 01Distillery: Glen Scotia
Region: Campbeltown
Age: No age statement
abv: 46%

Glen Scotia Double Cask forms part of the distillery’s rebranded range of whiskies. Gone are the Highland cows of yore, replaced now by a set of stylish bottlings. Despite the modern new look, Glen Scotia continues to reference its turbulent past, claiming Double Cask is “a fine example of the original, historic Campbeltown whisky style”. This is reflected in the packaging too, which displays the Glen Scotia distillery at the height of Campbeltown’s glory. And while Campbeltown’s fabled past is indeed remarkable, Glen Scotia ought to be even more proud that they survived to the present day at all. Where so many other distilleries have fallen, Glen Scotia continues to stand proudly near the shores of the Campbeltown Loch. And though good fortune may have had something to do with it, one cannot deny that Glen Scotia produces a very fine drop of whisky. Fortunately, Double Cask is no different, exhibiting all the spicy, energetic characteristics that Glen Scotia is known for. On top of this, an extra maturation in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks provides this whisky with some extra depth and a more fruity, nutty profile. The result is a fine dram and an excellent example of why Campbeltown has firmly earned its place on the whisky map.

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Glen Scotia Victoriana

Glen Scotia Victoriana 01Distillery: Glen Scotia
Region: Campbeltown
Age: No age statement
abv: 51.5%

Although historically standing in the shadow of its more famous neighbour Springbank, Glen Scotia survived the carnage of the Campbeltown bust for a reason. The distillery produces a quality spirit, known for its fresh, salty, oily characteristics. Although traditionally softer than other Campbeltown whiskies (and therefore more attractive to blenders), Glen Scotia’s whisky is no less distinctive and has gathered a loyal following. Production was rather irregular until the distillery was bought by the Loch Lomond Group in 2014, who invested heavily in both hardware and marketing. The result was a new range of whiskies between 10 and 21 years old, instantly recognisable by the Highland cow on the front of the bottle. Since then, the range has changed yet again, with just three bottlings now making up the core range.

One of these is Glen Scotia Victoriana, meant to be a modern interpretation of what a classic Campbeltown malt from the Victorian era might have tasted like. To achieve this result, Victoriana has been aged in heavily charred oak and bottled at cask strength. The result is a deliciously rich whisky that packs quite some punch. Whether it’s is anything like the drams Glen Scotia used to make in years gone by is impossible to say, but if it were up to me, the distillery should continue producing whisky very much like Victoriana!

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Springbank 10 year old

Springbank 10Distillery: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 10 years old
abv: 46%

The lone survivor of what was once termed the ‘Whisky Capital of the World’, Springbank is the quintessential Campbeltown malt. While in its heyday Campbeltown was a mighty force in whisky making, boasting no less than 28 distilleries, its fall was equally dramatic. Springbank was the only distillery to survive the onslaught and is the only Campbeltown whisky to remain in constant production since the 1820s. This was not entirely down to luck. Where Campbeltown’s commercial success led some distilleries to become complacent and produce inferior spirit  (there are even rumours of whisky being aged in herring barrels, although whether these are based on truth no one can say), Springbank never compromised on quality. As such it managed to stay popular with Glasgow’s blending houses, at a time when Speyside malts were much more in vogue.

Springbank distillery is still family-owned; something quite special in today’s corporate setting. In addition to Springbank, it also produces Hazelburn and Longrow. The distillery is the only in Scotland to malt all of its own barley, allowing it to carefully control the peat levels in the malt. While Hazelburn is unpeated and triple distilled, Longrow is heavily peated and double distilled. Springbank falls somewhere in between: lightly peated and distilled two and a half times.

With Glen Scotia and Glengyle distillery also back in production, Campbeltown is seeing a slow resurgence in popularity. Although the golden days may never quite return, thankfully Springbank is here to stay.

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