Origin: Campbeltown (Scotland)
Type: Single Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrel: Ex-Bourbon Refill
Added coloring: No
Owner: Hunter Laing & Company
Average price: € 150.00
Official website: hunterlaing.com
At one time Campbeltown was the de facto capital of Scotch whisky, with more than 30 distilleries operating in the 19th century and a production of around 5 million litres, very impressive for the times.
Today, things have changed dramatically, with only three distilleries open but total production in litres just under half that: the power of progress!
Alongside Springbank and Glengyle, there is therefore also Glen Scotia, which holds high the flag of this rich production area, and as it is often the case with older distilleries, it has a troubled history behind.
Founded in 1832, it remained a family business for a few decades, then passed into the hands first of Duncan MacCallum and then of West Highland Malt Distillers. With the well-known crisis that hit whisky in the 1920s, production returned to MacCallum, whose efforts to save the company from bankruptcy didn’t produce the expected results and led him to commit suicide by throwing himself into the lake (and legend has it that his spirit still haunts the distillery today).
Other changes of hands, other closures and attempts at re-launching, arriving in 1999 with the current owners who, also thanks to the help of Springbank personnel for the first year, have kept the distillery’s production going ever since.
The one under review today is a cask strength single cask from The First Editions series by independent bottler Edition Spirits (now Hunter Laing & Company), distilled in 1991 and bottled after 22 years in 2013.
The colour of the whisky in this bottle (number 39 out of 219, for the record) is a beautiful full gold.
What is surprising is the absence of the particularly high alcoholic sting on the nose, which instead leaves room for salty (almost marine) notes and a light smoke, accompanied by lemon and a hint of sweet cereal. Simple but not banal.
On the palate the smokiness explodes, very lively and bright (22 years old? Really?), the saltiness turns decidedly marine with a hint of wood, which caresses and doesn’t disturb. Peppery notes with a touch of sweetness (vanilla and caramel). Intense and oily, it envelops the mouth with a persuasive mantle, where the strength of the alcohol warms but doesn’t burn. There’s also a hint of liquorice. Really powerful.
The finish is long, smoky and spicy, with a sweet undertone.
A truly unique expression, well active even with significant ageing, where the woods are present without intrusiveness.
A pity it is rarely available and hardly reviewed at all.