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Scapa Skiren Single Malt Scotch Whisky (700ml)

Orkney Islands, SCOTLAND
$119. 99
$1439.88 Dozen
ABV: 40%

Founded in 1885 and now owned by Pernod Ricard, Scapa is another distillery that's almost disappeared from the market place, with just two NAS expressions making up the core range: Glansa and Skiren. They may not quite match the brawny 16YO of decades past, but they’re priced accordingly, and they do offer disarming complexity, real Orkney charm and unexpected palate weight given they're bottled at just 40%.  

Part of the scarcity has been attributed to the intermittent supply of aged stocks, with the distillery being mothballed for refurbishments from 1994 until 2006 (production did take place from 1997 using staff from Highland Park, but it was only for a few months of the year). What defines this soft, gently honeyed distillate are long fermentations, up to 70 hours, with a fruitiness that’s prominent in the wash, and is further refined by distillation in a relatively rare Lomond-style still - one of only two in use in the industry. These were designed in the late 1950s in an attempt to create different flavour profiles from a single pot. According to scotchwhisky.com “The barrel-like necks contained moveable copper baffle plates which could be manipulated to create different levels of reflux. Today the plates have been removed, but the amount of copper in the necks is still massive. A purifier pipe increases reflux even further, and adds its usual oiliness. The result is one of the juiciest new makes in Scotland, a character that is enhanced by maturation in American oak and refill casks.”

Launched in 2015 and matured in first-fill American oak, Skiren is a series of batch releases (at the time of writing, we're on Batch 21, but that may change without notice). Imagine Highland Park 'Light' and it would be something like this: The nose invites with aromas of Ugg boots, distant beeswax, salted crackers, peaches and cream, developing with fresher notes of grapefruit and 'coastal lift'. At just 40% it's surprisingly well-weighted with a fruity Clynelish kind of profile suggesting dried mango, pineapple chews, beeswax and straw bail. The finish is succulent with a lick of of salt and pepper. Although it's a lighter, fresher Scapa compared to the 16 year old we all loved and miss, it remains a deceptively complex and distinctive make that wins your attention and keeps you coming back. The name is derived from the Old Norse word for "glittering bright skies". 40% Alc./Vol.

Other reviews... Chaps who created this: Lovely, but you really do have to power this one up a bit. 89.5 points - Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2022

Gold - Single Malt No Age Statement - 2017 International Spirits Challenge

Notes from the producers... Nose: Delicate scented floral flavours with a hint of fresh pear. Sweet and fruity pineapple notes with a citrus tang. Taste: Smooth and sweet, ripe honeydew melon slices, bursts of fruity pear and lemon sherbet. Finish: Long, refreshing, shimmering sweetness.