Scapa 16yo

A bottle of Scapa 16yo

A bottle of Scapa 16yo


Intro

This is another gem I managed to pick up on the way to America a few years ago and have recently found the tasting notes for! If I remember correctly this was one of the few bottles I felt needed to make it back to the UK and made room in my bag for it.

A small bit of history

The Scapa distillery was built in 1885 on the coast of what is known as Orkney Mainland, near Kirkwall. It is named after the very convenient body of water in the center of the Orkney Islands which has been the base of nearly every major fleet in the UK from viking times til 1956 when the UK’s chief navel base was closed in the area.

The business began it’s life as a partnership between a Mr Macfarlane and Mr Townsend, both already successful businessmen, the former of the two already successfully running various distilleries in Speyside. Though the whisky was clearly good enough to last the test of time in the long-run, the business itself did not, and it went the way of most other small distilleries in Scotland.

I was unable to find details of exactly when the original business venture failed, or when the building started to fall into disrepair but it is known to have been relatively abandoned by World War 1, when it was used to house by Royal Navy sailors. It was saved by a group of businessmen calling themselves the Scapa Distillery Company Ltd directly afterwards in 1919.

Though their dream of rebuilding and making a lot of money from the distillery never came into being they did manage to keep it from being torn down until it was eventually sold to Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd in 1954 who immediately expanded and modernised it. Though the whisky was always loved and appreciated by malt lovers it did not get on in blends as much as Highland Park (their neighbor) and was just not profitable enough for the company.

They stopped producing new spirit there in 1994 and the site was to be entirely closed and demolished in 2004. However Chivas Regal (owned by Allied Domecq, soon to be owned by Pernod Richard… you know how it goes :P) had other plans. In November of that year they took the building (by now missing most of it’s roof) and renovated the whole thing, refusing to sell to blenders they aimed to sell single malt exclusively.

Though many sources (including my main man Ian Buxton) claim that the whisky leaving the building from that point onwards was never to the same quality as it was previously (the old 12yo is known as gold) and now goes through the usual chill filtering etc you would expect from something more mass produced, they still admit that it is unique and interesting enough to justify being praised and tried.

The 16 year old came out in 2009 and spent an additional 2 years in American Oak casks (like bourbon) and is the current incarnation.

Noteworthy awards

  • 2013 Silver Outstanding Medal by IWSC
  • 2012 Silver Outstanding Medal by IWSC
  • 2011 Silver Medal by IWSC

Taste notes

This is a very unique scotch and you will get that impression from the very first smell. You will find hay here, honey with floral undertones, orange peel and a hint of lime.

The palette keeps the lime hint, adds freshly cut grass, papaya, cinnamon, coffee and a nice salty undertone that get stronger with each glass. (Complex… a lot of stuff going on)

As you let it rest the finish will bring you an smokey oak finish and a light peppery undertone. It is there for but a few moments.

When I suggest drinking it

Though I will probably never have the opportunity to taste any of the older versions of Scapa, if it was more complex and interesting than this one it must have been quite a drink indeed! Though I don’t think I will keep it in stock here at the house I would definitely encourage everyone make a stop here on their way through their personal journeys.

Can whisky cure a cough?

A bottle of cough medicine

A bottle of cough medicine

For the past few weeks I have suffered with the worst possible cough – the sort that leaves you coughing continuously, struggling to breathe and unable to hold the most basic of conversations without massive interruptions.

Having reached the stage of my head pounding with every coughing fit, today I took a step I swore I would never do and bought cough medicine even though deep down I knew it was useless. The cough mixture gave no more than seconds of relief at a time and 3/4 of a bottle later, I was still coughing as bad as ever.

It should be noted here that I have not slept properly for the last week or so for this damn cough. So tonight, in a final act of desperation I consulted the guru (google) to see what could be done.

Having limited supplies of things in my house that may contain medicinal powers, I found a few bottles and googled the phrase “Can whisky cure my cough”. The majority of the answers that came back said something along the lines of “It can’t cure your cough, but drink enough and it will make you feel better ;)”.

Some, however, stated that whisky would do the trick and in particular a “hot toddy” would be the answer to all my woes. This was good enough for me – the internet says so, so it must be true as the old saying goes. I reached for the de facto bottle of whisky that comes out when I want a pleasurable drink – Balvenie 12 year old Doublewood.

I poured myself a generous measure of this pure liquid gold. To me the smoothness of this whisky has made it my whisky of choice for quite some time now. Having drunk it quite quickly, with the hope of numbing my painful throat, I did notice that my previously persistent cough did seem to reduce quite dramatically, although I would hardly call it a cure.

Maybe I hadn’t had enough? So, I repeated the procedure. The results didn’t seem to change much. What was going wrong? Google told me that whisky could cure a cough (having selectively ignored anything that told me that it couldn’t). Then, I found it… The information that I believe is going to give me a good night sleep that I haven’t had in days.

I was doing it all wrong. I’d been drinking Scotch. Apparently the rules are that you drink bourbon for congestion or a sore throat, Irish Whiskey for a persistent cough. Now, being an Irishman, getting hold of Irish Whiskey is not hard. Currently my whiskey cabinet contains a bottle of Black Bush, 2 bottles of Bushmills 10 year old single malt and a bottle of Bushmills 16 year old single malt.

I reached for the 10 year old Bushmills. With its medicinal pale yellow colour and its smooth finish, it was a pleasure to drink. It has been quite some time since I have sampled it due to my love of scotch but this was an emergency and it really is quite pleasant.

As to its medicinal values? I drank the Bushmills and then, 15 minutes past, 30 minutes past, 45 minutes past… not a single cough. My throat started to get a bit itchy, but no cough. And then, finally, some mild coughing. What had I done wrong. I for certain had enjoyed the longest period in weeks without coughing – but this wasn’t cured, I still was coughing – even if far less frequently.

So to summarise my experiments, does whisky cure a cough? no, but it certainly helps!

Knob Creek Rye

A bottle of Knob Creek Rye

A bottle of Knob Creek Rye

Intro

Left the review til the last minute again. Luckily today it will be on a brand I have already reviewed before :) which means less history and more whiskey enjoyment on my part!

A small bit of history

For a history of the brand as a whole please see my review on Knob Creek 9yo, as this will only be about the Rye of the same name.

In fact for the most part I would just read that review for the history of this drink as the only difference is that this is their Rye alternative created late in the reemergence of Rye as a vastly profitable product in 2012. By law this will mean it will be made with over 51% rye in the mash.

Unlike Knob Creek 9yo this one carries no age statement but as it is a Straight Rye it will have been required to be aged at least 2 years. Though the removal of ages from bottles might hurt the industry as a whole in the long run, my love of Knob Creek is too great to stay angry at them over it.

Noteworthy awards

  • 2013 Silver Medal by IWSC
  • 2013 Double Gold Medal by San Fransisco World Spirits

Taste notes

The nose is very similar to Knob Creek 9yo, very sweet and toffee like with nice nutty undertones.

The palette is the first time you will realise it is a Rye, but it is not at all overpowering, it is a tickling of rye accompanied by the oaky, vanilla and caramel undertones of a bourbon.

As the palette fades away to the finish it is met with a spicy finish with a slight orange zest and undertones of ginger.

Very much enjoyed! 😀

When I suggest drinking it

This is a Rye that tastes a lot more like a Bourbon and as such has made a special place in my heart. This is the only Rye I have actually stocked in my house for an extended period of time and is definitely worth a try if you have never tried Rye before. Use it to dip your toe in 😉