Over the past few years, Glen Scotia has started to emerge from Springbank’s shadow, with a devoted fan base among whisky geeks. I had somehow missed its psychedelic cow phase, so this 15 year-old was my first proper encounter with this distillery. It’s matured in ex-bourbon casks, with a very quick (2 months) finishing period in first fill Oloroso sherry.
Nose: Spicy, salty and woody. There’s sea air with a touch of smoke, paprika (which I only really get in Glen Scotia) and a lot of vanilla sweetness from the oak. Quite a singular nose then, but you have to like whisky with a strong cask influence, which in this case manifests itself both in terms of sweetness and spice.
Palate: It’s not shy, with sweet, savoury and umami notes all battling for attention. There’s a hint of smoke again as well as spices from the Glen Scotia cupboard (paprika, pepper, a touch of cinnamon). The sweetness seems to come from the casks and doesn’t seem entirely integrated, not to my palate at least.
Finish: Medium, savoury and sweet, giving way to some bitter oak right at the end.
Comments: It’s very good – I must admit I still prefer Springbank, but like its illustrious neighbour the Glen Scotia 15 is a great showcase for the singular Campbeltown style. I find that water unbalances the palate, which is strange.