October 2016 Archives

Scapa Skiren

skiren.jpgSkiren is the latest single malt release from the Scapa distillery to hit LCBO shelves. Located on the remote island of Orkney, just off the northern coast of Scotland, Scapa is arguably one of the lesser known distilleries in the realm of Scotch whisky. Since most Scapa's yearly one million litre single malt output is consumed by the Ballantine's family of blended whisky, the distillery releases very few official bottlings. Lighter than its neighbour distillery Highland Park, Scapa uses a Lomond-style wash still and long fermentation times to produce an oily, unctuous, spirit that's a close reflection of the grain and expresses fruity notes like pear, a twinge of salt on the palate and a chocolatey finish.

It's been a while since we've seen anything from this distillery in Ontario. Scapa attracted the attention of whisky geeks in 2008 with the spectacular 16 year old expression and, later, the delicious 14 year old that replaced it. However, from about 2013 until just recently, it's been difficult to track down a bottle of either aside from the occasional independent bottling. To the surprise of enthusiasts, Scapa announced a relaunch of the brand in 2015 focusing on no-age-statement releases and a new visitor centre where guests can still find some of the prized 16 year old for sale. While NAS bottlings usually make us skeptical, our love for this hard-to-find spirit demanded that we get our hands on a bottle.

Skiren, meaning "glittering bright skies" in Old Norse, is bottled at 40% ABV, bears no age statement and was matured in 100% first-fill American oak barrels. 


Recent Comments

  • Ryan commented on Lagavulin 8 year old:

    Jeff, you're right. Whiksy producers and their spokespeople are doing a very tricky dance as they try to backtrack on years of marketing which highlighted the importance of aging as a determinant of quality.

  • Joseph Neibich commented on Lagavulin 8 year old:

    Such a great Scotch-especially over crushed ice!

  • Jeff commented on Lagavulin 8 year old:

    But even Dr. Morgan can’t talk too long without tripping himself up – “if you select your casks carefully, you can find many wonderful whiskies aged six, eight, or ten years that have very specific tastes and flavors that are lost with excessive aging” – if the tastes and flavors are “very specific” to those ages, then obviously the ages matter to the product, whether “the majority of Scotch that’s consumed around the world today doesn’t carry an age statement” or ““the obsession with age statements and older whiskies is really a product of the late twentieth century” or not.

    There are “very specific” tastes and flavours associated with a lot of three year old product as well, but they aren’t generally tastes and flavours that are in high demand, and Nick’s silly NAS defenses NEVER come out as attacks on things like Lag 25 – what about all the wonderful and unique six, eight and ten year old flavours lost there? Is Lag 25 a victim of “excessive aging”, Dr. Morgan? Somehow there is such as thing as “excessive aging”, but not “underaging” – or, at least, you never read about it.

    There’s a lot of lazy thinking done around the subject of age, all right, and Nick Morgan is one of its primary authors and cheerleaders. If age matters to any whisky, it matters to all whisky.

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