Friday, 17 May 2013

Comparison: Scapa 16 Year Old versus Scapa 14 Year Old

Scapa 16 Year Old (40%, distiller's bottling)

nose: light, dry(-ish) and fruity. Not smoky
palate: sweet and easy. Marzipan, battenburg cake. It's somewhat empty in the finish. Coming back to it later, it is noticeably light bodied. There's a definite attractive marzipan sweetness.

Scapa 14 Year Old (40%, distiller's bottling)

nose: slightly smoky (a rooty kind of peat), gristy, with lots of raw cereal notes. Over time, richer fruit notes evolve.
palate: sweet and rounded. There's a slight marzipan note, but less so than in the 16. Very easy to drink. hardly any smoke except late in the finish.


I wasn't really expecting to find any peat in either dram - I know that I'm sometimes deceived by the wood flavours in teenage or older drams, and I wondered if that's what has happened here. However, consulting the Malt Whisky Yearbook I learn that Scapa practices fermentations of up to 160 hours (the longest in Scotland), which can lead to the presence of acrolein, which is said to have a burnt smell.

These are both decent drams, no more, no less. I have a slight preference for the (discontinued) 14 year Old, because of the smoky woody burnt note.

About Scapa

The distillery, which is a near neighbour to Highland Park on Orkney, is owned by Pernod Ricard, who have not really promoted it (understandable,since they also own Glenlivet and Aberlour, amongst others).

It was built in 1885. After various changes of ownership it was taken over in 1954 by Hiram Walker who then proceeded to install a Lomond still (in 1959). The distillery was mothballed from 1994 to 2004. Following extensive renovations it was sold to Pernod Ricard. The 16 Year Old is the only readily available bottling, while the 14 Year Old was discontinued in 2008.

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