Scapa distillery on Orkney is a relative unknown compared to its neighbour Highland Park a couple of miles up the road. Until recently you couldn’t even visit it without an appointment, instead having to park at the main road entrance to take a peek.

After a number of years running part time, it was extensively refurbished by owners Pernod Ricard and now produces a number of single malts with majority of the whisky going into blends such as Ballantine’s.

My brother gave me a sample of the now-discontinued 12 year old which is bottled at 40% ABV; here’s my thoughts.

Colour

Pale straw.

Nose

Opens with a light creamy heathery honey.

Some fresh appley sharpness develops along with slightly oily vanilla and some cereal sweetness.

Really pleasant nose.

Taste

The taste is sharper than you might expect with a bit of alcohol prickle but it’s quickly followed by more mellow flavours such a rich dark chocolate and some nutty dryness.

Gets lighter at the end with the return of the heather honey and malty sweetness in the medium length finish.

Water opens up the sweetness and even at 40% the spirit holds up well.

Overall

This is the first Scapa I’ve tried and my initial impression wasn’t great with a recollection of it being very oily and dry. I don’t know what I must have been eating (or drinking) that time as each time I’ve tasted it since has been a much more pleasant experience.

The Scapa 12 is a lovely gentle sweet whisky which doesn’t have a huge amount in the way of complexity but is very well made. I can understand why it still has a lot of fans and would urge anyone to seek it out for a try.

(Image Credit: Whisky Exchange)

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