Glen Scotia 1832 Campbeltown 46%

Last in our Campbeltown trio was a no age statement Travel Retail offering from Glen Scotia. While one may be tempted to have an NAS before age statements, in this case, I knew this expression was both more peated than a standard Glen Scotia plus an experimentation with a PX sherry cask finish, so it ‘felt’ intuitively like the one to close with… even though the least expensive of the bunch!

That’s part of the magic with tasting order – when trying whiskies side by side, selecting the right progression of profiles is critical. Try something really intense up front and you can overwhelm the senses to miss completely the nuances of a subtler dram. It seems self-evident but can be tricky when you’ve never tried that particular expression and have to go by a ‘gut’ feel basis what you do know of the distillery, potential impact of the wood, particularly as described peat levels can be notoriously unreliable – both by ppm and the ‘eye’ (palate) of the beholder!

However in this case, my blind tasting companions from the first session confirmed the appropriateness of starting with the Springbank 10 year, followed by the Glen Scotia 16 year and this expression. So I followed the same approach for the Whisky Ladies virtual session held a few weeks later!

Whereas the small group of ladies began with this NAS followed by the Springbank 10 and Glen Scotia 16. In this case, tasting order made little difference – we had quite similar impressions of all three whiskies!

Glen Scotia 1832 Campbeltown 46%

  • Nose
    • Mixed group – Started with Williams pear or dishrag (depending on who you ask!), walnut, caramel or toffee, bacon, dates, the gulkand that goes into paan, hints of vanilla, one also got kerosene or motor oil, sour leather… after some time – don’t laugh – but I got gummy bears!
    • Virtual ladies – For us, it started with overripe almost spoilt fruits, quite pungent, oily, shifting from sweet overripe black grapes to bananas, then figs to nuts, with rum raisin.. shifted again to dahi… after even more time the over ripe fruit dimension was replaced by other elements like cardamon kheer, touch of smoke
    • During our share and compare, the other group of ladies added their sense of honey lemon, comforting.. with a vanilla perfume
  • Palate
    • Mixed group – A clean peat with cinnamon, salt and smoke, pepper fry, sweet stewed fruits, nice and round
    • Virtual ladies – The 1st sip was a bit of a shock of bitter spice, but after the initial ‘punch’, the 2nd sip was smooth, still having spice but chased with subtle sweet peat, resin, with that tasty bitterness lingering… there was also a herbal green element we couldn’t quite place which the other group of ladies nailed – green capsicum
  • Finish
    • Mixed group – Salt and pepper spice, dry
    • Virtual ladies – The bit of bitterness remained, dry with black pepper licorice spice

In our mixed group, we initially found it a bit unbalanced… there was a curious quality for some time until it settled down. Once that “motor oil” quality finally dispersed and it began to grow on us. When we compared with the others, we found all three had dry finishes with this one a bit spicier than the others. Certainly the peat was more pronounced too, though clearly not a typical Islay style.

As for our ladies? For us, it was all the contrasts that made us slow down and really explore this one.  As interesting as the nose was to begin with, after a few sips, it lost a bit of its pungency. However by contrast, the palate grew on us more and more. This whisky challenged us – in a good way, reminding us why it is so fun to explore different dimensions with others. The other group also enjoyed it – sharing the warm and tingly combined with perfume finish.

Bottom line – it was a ‘yes’ from all.

What do the folks at Glen Scotia have to say?

The higher peat content gives a more sweet and smoky character and a beautiful rounded finish.

  • Nose – Peat smoke on a salty sea breeze with background notes of crème caramel and vanilla
  • Palate – Golden syrup (light treacle), spiced apple and vanilla. Light medicinal peat notes bring balance to the mid-palate
  • Finish – Long, lingering peat with dried fruit notes adding sweetness

I purchased this whisky late Oct 2019 from Munich airport for EUR 62 on my way back home to Mumbai…. ahhh…. those were the days when we could freely fly back and forth!

And with that, we finished our wee journey to the Campbeltown region with Springbank and Glen Scotia!

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Campbeltown – Glen Scotia 16 year 46%

Today part of the Loch Lomond Group, Campbeltown’s Glen Scotia traces its history to 1832, however certainly had a few ‘silent’ periods. The first halt in 1930 was brought on the dramatic fall of distilling in the Campbeltown region triggered by the depression, temperance movement and rising distribution costs. Original known as “Scotia”, the distillery re-opened a few years later as “Glen Scotia” when bought by the Bloch Brothers. Fast forward to the next major decline in the whisky industry – no surprise is shut production from 1984 to 1989 – starting up again when bought by the Gibson group.

With our history lesson now over, what about the whisky? Well… it has both lightly peated and non-peated variants, playing around with American oak / ex-bourbon, oloroso and PX sherry casks.

As for our collective tasting experience? I’d explored a a few minis from Glen Scotia with a regular tasting companion. We found the entry expression – Double Cask 46% – was quite a good indicator of what is to come, noting the 15 year took a bit of time to ‘warm’ up, whereas the Victoriana 51.5% was a clear ‘pleaser’ from the start.

So then… what about this 16 year?

Glen Scotia 16 year 46%

  • Colour – Coper and gold
  • Nose
    • Mixed group – Musty cupboard, sour fruits, a bit like a fruity brandy, lots of honey, oak, floral talcum, rose peppermints, coffee sweets, chicory, lightly salted, dry spice, more light wood, grass, celery, cherry blossoms
    • Virtual Ladies – A nice bourbon, fruits and nuts with cocao, changes so much in a gentle way… toffee, berries shifting to cherries… sweet but not too sweet… our IRL ladies also found beeswax
  • Palate
    • Mixed group – Spiced Christmas oranges with cloves, dry salt, cigar leaf, gooseberries, apple – like calvados, sour plum, almonds, dry sherry, peppery spice, hint of peat
    • Virtual ladies – Simply delicious! Incredibly silky with a great well rounded mouth feel. We tasted figs with dates, a gentle roasted quality…  our IRL ladies agreed – noting what really stood out was the velvety smoothness with a hint of mint at the back
  • Finish
    • Mixed group – Salty dry
    • Virtual ladies – Sweet milk chocolate, after lingering for some time slowly eases out with a dry black licorice
  • Water – A few drops didn’t hurt… but why dilute something so fine? Truly not needed

For the mixed group, we concluded overall that it had quite a friendly nose – more interesting and complex than the palate. Even after the glass was empty, the aromas were most appealing. For a few in our cross-country virtual tasting (from London to scattered locations around Europe to Mumbai) this was the favourite.

As for our ladies? We agreed! We found it had a fabulous harmony, makes its presence felt in a gentle enticing way. The kind of dram you want some ‘alone time’ with…. slow down and simply enjoy.

What more do we know? Just that it was matured in ex-bourbon and American oak (presumably virgin?) for a minimum of 16 years and released for Travel Retail. While the distillery notes do not indicate it was matured or finished in sherry casks, both their tasting notes and our experience would indicate a hint.

What do the folks at Glen Scotia have to say about their 16 year?

  • Nose – Fresh sea spray and floral notes give way to softer caramel and vanilla
  • Palate – Rich sherry flavours, toffee, raisins and roasted hazelnut. Apricot and orange add more subtle fruit notes
  • Finish – Long dry finish with touches of peat combining with nutty elements and coastal, salty notes

I picked it up in Singapore’s Changi Airport in November 2018 for SGP 167 (approx EUR 105 / INR 9,100). A bit pricey, but then that is also Singapore…

What did we explore in our Campbeltown evening aside from the Glen Scotia 16 year?

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Campbeltown’s Glen Scotia Victoriana 51.5%

Our Campbeltown minis explorations returned from Springbank to Glen Scotia to crack open the Victoriana NAS cask strength single malt.

Glen Scotia Victoriana 51.5%

  • Nose – Lemon pie, tart, sweet, doughy, lots of vanilla, more citrus chased by fresh caramel toffee sweets. After the 1st sip, added to the mix a light leather, more of the toffee, dried bay leaf or thatched straw roof, banana, sweet powder and above all vanilla… overall quite aromatic
  • Palate – Toffee caramel, tart, tobacco leaf, balance sweet spice
  • Finish – Tobacco, bitter yet pleasant and long

We both quite enjoyed this whisky – found it perfect for settling down in a comfy cushion chair or sofa, curling up with a nice dram and good book. However to be approached with caution as there is nothing that would hint at its strength – entirely deceptive as has the silky smooth flavourful feel of a 46% not 51.5%.

Here is what the folks over at Glen Scotia have to say about this whisky:

Each cask is chosen for its rare character and exceptional maturity. Finished in deep charred oak, the result is an exceptionally smooth single malt whisky whose aroma and flavour work in harmony. Bottled in the traditional way straight from the cask and without filtration, its subtle wood and vanilla flavour is enhanced by a full bodied spicy fruit aroma and mildly smokey aftertaste.

  • Nose – Dark again. An elegant nose with hints of oak driving the bouquet. Interesting creme brulee notes leading to generous caramelised fruits and finally polished oak.
  • Palate – Sweet and concentrated start with some jammy blackcurrant fruitiness. A big mid palate. Typical tightening towards the back palate. Becomes more austere with water.
  • Finish – Clean and initially sweet.The green bean, with cocoa characteristic.

What all did we try in our Campbeltown meanderings:

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Campbeltown’s Glen Scotia 15 year 46%

Our Campbeltown minis and more session began with Glen Scotia… According to the Glen Scotia folks, distilling in the Kintyre peninsula harkens back to 1609 with the distillery founded in 1832. It remained one of the two Campbeltown distilleries that survived the downturn in demand from the region and other factors that led to the closure of all but Glen Scotia and Springbank.

But what matters most is the malt… what did we think?

Glen Scotia 15 year 46%

  • Nose – Surprisingly ‘heavy’, with an initial chilli spice, the sweet white biscuits like shortbread, wet dough, loads of vanilla, wheat, light honey wine… becoming increasingly fruity with a citrus twist… after some time took on a cinnamon apple pie quality
  • Palate – Again that sense of substance, spices, hint of coffee, sweet fruits on the top of the palate, tobacco and a bit of salt at the back
  • Finish – Dry, light spice and a bit bitter

Truth be told we weren’t overly impressed initially… however as it rested, it took on increasingly a lovely honey citrus, a sweet sour spice combination that was well balanced and quite enjoyable.

Particularly after we tasted the full set and returned to it, we were delighted to find it silky smooth and really rather nice.

While we didn’t compare it directly with the Double Cask, I had a sense it may be more complex.

Here is what the folks over at Glen Scotia have to say about this whisky:

The whisky has been gently matured in our finest American oak barrels before bottling. The signature nose has hints of vanilla oak, interwoven with the subtle notes of sea spray and spicy aromatic fruits.

  • Nose – Richer colours. Broad and medium-weight with citrus peels, ginger snap biscuits. Sweet and with great depth. Apricot aromas develop then drift towards fruit salad. After a short time the wood come to the fore and water helps to release baked fruit.
  • Palate – A complicated palate where the initial nose would lead you to expect plump fruits, what you get is a surprisingly dry element. The palate fleshes out as the first impact of the nose fades. Adding water brings out the caramalised elements balanced with the wood elements expected of a 15 yr old.
  • Finish – Firm and slightly dry.

What all did we try in our Campbeltown meanderings:

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Campbeltown Quartet – Glen Scotia 15 + Victoriana, Springbank 15 + 37

It had been some time since we had a minis evening, and this time we focused on Campbeltown… augmented by a special whisky.

What all did we try in our Campbeltown meanderings:

What fun to explore a few drams  from the Campbeltown region… a once prodigious producer of whisky, now much reduced yet still bringing most enjoyable malts to the world.

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Minis – Glen Scotia Double Cask 46%

I will admit, I didn’t really know what to expect with this one. My minis sampling cohort had picked up a set in London more than a year or so ago – sparked mostly by a “What the heck! Let’s try a set from Cambleton.” Then this extra bottle somehow made its way back to Mumbai too!

The double cask in this case is  PX Sherry and Bourbon. And it just so happened to kick off our minis evening exploring a few different finishes.

Glen Scotia Double Cask 46%

  • Nose – Pear and apple combine like the New Zealand hybrid papple! Or raw guava…. with a lovely honey vanilla, fresh, then caramel stroopwafel, shifting into a Christmas pudding or mince pie, sweet spices, orange… After tasting, delicious baklava dripping in honey, nuts, doughy, cinnamon. Then shifted to dusty vanilla rose. Kept moving back and forth between citrus and white fruits, hard core treacle and denser rich cake. Wonderful!
  • Palate – Strong character – spice, more of that Christmasy flavours – this time a Christmas orange with cloves, some wood, some real depth without being too “heavy” and sweet, a bit dry too
  • Finish – Bitter spice, long with black pepper

I will admit to having very modest expectations and was completely impressed. What a fabulous range of aromas, robust palate, citrus then morphing between pastries and citrus oranges and back to treacle.

Glen Scotia Double Cask is their “entry” level whisky before shifting into a range of age statements. Here is what they have to say about this whisky:

Our Double Cask is matured in the finest first fill bourbon barrels before being finished for up to twelve months in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks producing this outstanding single malt whisky that provides the perfect balance of rich spicy fruits, overlaid with the characteristic sea spray and vanilla oak finish for which the house of Glen Scotia is famous.

  • Nose – Amber. Very sweet. Initially it is all creme caramel, caramelised fruit sugars, wood sugar, toffee and fudge before some apple and peach come through. In time a charred note of bourbon with a pleasing dusty dryness. Has some power.
  • Palate – Sweet start and quite fat and though the alcohol gives a little tongue-tingling buzz the result is a good mid-palate weight. The dry distillery character is there still, but there is now depth to counter. Water slightly dismantles the different elements, but adds some dried mint.
  • Finish – Deep and dark.

What a terrific start to our minis sampling – set the bar high with substance. And now I cannot wait to try a small sample set of Glen Scotia minis waiting in the wings for another session…

Our Fabulous Finishes Minis eve included:

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Minis with fabulous finishes – Glen Scotia, Nomad, Shelter Point

Believe it or not, we had a problem of plenty… lots of different minis to potentially explore picked up our several trips.

A tasting companion neatly organized into different possible sets and the one we elected to try was whiskies with finishes… we initially planned to sample four but in the end we were content with just these three:

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