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Scotch whisky / Whisky reviews

Glen Scotia whisky tasting with Gary Mills and the Whisky Circus

Last year, in the beginning of the first lockdown, I was suddenly invited to join a chat group on Twitter for whisky enthusiasts, the Whisky circus. Although I often feel like an outsider there, it’s a brilliant group with lots of lovely people and it’s a nice hideaway when the main Twitter feed, and/or life, gets overwhelming or you just want to escape into the whisky nerd world for a while. Most Sundays, especially last year, there are organised Zoom meetings with guests from the whisky industry. At least I’ve been introduced to a lot of distilleries I didn’t know much about before, and learned a lot about them and their products.

On the 11th of April we had a whisky tasting with Glen Scotia, organised by Sorren Krebs and Gary Mills, and mainly led by Gary Mills, Visitor Experience Manager & Brand Ambassador for Glen Scotia (and possibly Loch Lomond? I’m not sure).

This suited me perfectly. Since 2012-ish, when I first tasted whiskies from Campbeltown, I’ve been a big fan of Springbank and all their brands, and wanted to explore more of the whiskies from Campbeltown but I didn’t know where to start. I definitely didn’t know much about Glen Scotia. I remember we had one of their whiskies years ago, a peated whisky that came in a very colourful whisky tube, and back then I really liked it. After that I haven’t had any Glen Scotia until last summer when we bought a tasting kit from L Mulligan’s whiskey shop in Dublin. But the samples were tiny and afterwards I still felt I didn’t know much about Glen Scotia – though I did remember the Victoriana and the 14-year-old Tawny port finish (the 2020 bottling for the Campbeltown malts festival) were very good.

So I was delighted that the secret tasting with the Whisky Circus turned out to be Glen Scotia – and even more delighted that I received the samples very quickly and without problems – despite the famous Brex****.

That sunny April day we tasted the Glen Scotia core range which consists in the Double cask, the 15-year-old, the 18-year-old, Victoriana, and the 25-year-old. I scribbled down some tasting notes, so here are some thoughts about the whiskies.

Glenscotia core range

Glen Scotia Double Cask, 46% ABV

Matured in first-fill bourbon casks, and finished for 6-9 months in PX sherry casks.

Nose

Vanilla fudge and a hint of salted caramel, oxidised apple, light spice, fresh birch leaves, golden syrup and hints of smoke.

Palate

My tasting notes for this one are very scarce for some reason, perhaps I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t write much? I was greeted by a gorgeous creamy mouthfeel, followed by Digestive biscuits and pecorino wine. What I remember most of it is the fantastic mouthfeel and the mix of toffee and spice. Very nice indeed. It probably is their most inexpensive whisky, being described as an entry-level whisky, but this is fabulous.

Glen Scotia 15-year-old, 46% ABV

This whisky has been matured in refill bourbon casks and refill American hogsheads, with some older spirit and a small part heavily peated spirit mixed in, then finished in ex-Oloroso sherry casks for 2-3 months.

Nose

Lots of good stuff on the nose here. There’s dark fruit notes, bitter orange, ginger, honey, caramelised sugar, salted almonds, and a hint of smoke.

Palate

There’s a mouth coating feel but on the dry side with dried fruits – raisins, sultanas, and a pleasant spiciness. With a few drops of water the orange and spice come forward.
This is a very nice whisky if you’re into heavy sherry flavours. I’m not personally a big fan of the drier sherry characters unless there’s some oiliness and/or some of the typical bourbon cask flavours in there too. This one doesn’t have that – it is nice but not my favourite.

Glenscotia Victoriana

Glen Scotia Victoriana, 54,2% ABV

This whisky is described as a recreation of the classic Victorian whisky from Campbeltown, and it consists in a variety of spirits:

  • 10-year-old unpeated malt from first-fill bourbon casks
  • 12-year-old medium peated malt from first-fill bourbon casks
  • 17-18-year-old unpeated malt from refill American oak hogsheads

The whiskies, vatted together, have then been recasked, one part to first-fill PX hogsheads and one part to heavily charred American oak, and after a year they’ve been vatted together.

Nose

This whisky has some very appealing aromas on the nose – a mix of tropical fruits, hints of smoke, shortbread, orange jam, and toffee.

Palate

I’m immediately greeted with a nice creamy texture. There’s spice, dried dark fruits, toffee, butter and a variety of other caramel-y flavours. Long, very spicy finish with tropical fruit. It has some different layers of powerful caramel and dark fruity flavours and is totally my cup of tea.

Glen Scotia 18-year-old, 46% ABV

The 18-year-old consists in 17-year-old whiskies matured in refill bourbon casks and refill American oak, then married together in first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry casks for 12 months.

Nose

Spice, and fresh herbs like rosemary or mint. I get a lot more smoke from this one than from the other drams, and behind the smoke there’s orchard fruit but also a tropical fruit note like that from light yellow wine gum.

Palate

Again a very nice whisky. There’s a beautiful creamy mouthfeel, with a lovely tropical fruitiness. I’m not usually a big fan of what is described as “fresh and fruity” in whisky, but this one is different – there’s dry smoked mixed with pineapple, like the grilled pineapple slices we use for hamburgers, with some ginger spice on top.

Glen Scotia 25-year-old, 48,8% ABV

The 25-year-old malt from Glen Scotia has been matured in refill bourbon casks for 24 years and then filled into first-fill bourbon casks for the last year of maturation.

Nose

This one had a very intriguing nose. Cantuccini (Italian biscuits with almonds and some lemon), sweet almond cream, ginger, shortbread, light tropical fruit such as pineapple, and clementine peel.

Palate

Heavy oily mouthfeel, with the tropical fruit and clementine coming back, then there’s another layer with darker fruits, and leather. It has a long, spicy finish with citrus.

This was a very enjoyable tasting, with some very nice whiskies. While the oldest often is the best one in a core range, I don’t always agree with that, and that was the case here. My favourite in this collection was the Victoriana, because of the heavy caramely flavours mixed with fruit, and the extra power from the higher ABV. Second was the Double Cask – described as an entry-level whisky but it has that extra creaminess and again heavy on caramel type of flavours. The third for me was the 18-year-old, followed by the 25-year-old and then the 15-year-old.

Big thanks to Gary Mills and Glen Scotia for this tasting opportunity, and thanks to OCD whisky for organising!

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