Orkney’s ‘other’ distillery Scapa is one of only places where you’ll find Lomond stills in operation in Scotland. Designed in the 1950’s by Alistair Cunningham and Hiram Walker (of Canadian Club fame) the Lomond still offers versatility though the use of three separate holed plates inside the still which can be cooled independently to control the levels of reflux. It’s someone similar in design and application to a Coffey still and allows different types and weights of spirit to be made in a single still.
Once in-situ in Loch Lomond (where they were initially designed for), Glenburgie, Miltonduff, Inverleven and Scapa, the only examples still in use are at the latter, and also at Bruichladdich who obtained and renovated the Inverleven Lomond still after the distillery was demolished. Scapa was originally constructed in 1885, though had to be extensively rebuilt after a fire in 1919. The distillery officially closed in 1994, but kept some level of occasional production though the distillery team at down the road Highland Park popping in to conduct limited runs. Scapa reopened in 2004 following a large renovation, and joined the Pernod Ricard ranks in 2005.
Scapa 14 year old was bottled to replace the 12 year, but very quickly was subsumed with the release of the 16 year old Orcadian. Sadly, all these age-statement malts have now been replaced with only Scapa Glansa and Skiren remaining as permanent expressions. It’s bottled at 40% and was originally released in 2007.
Nose: Somewhat shy initially, though opens up after a little while resting. Quite fresh and floral with gentle fruits (pear and apple), hints of almond, heathery honey and a gentle breeze of smoke filled sea air.
Taste: More expressive in the mouth with a reasonably full feel that brings with it more stone fruits – apricots and peaches. Some nuttiness and spicing – almonds and cumin – sit alongside leather and golden tobacco notes.
Finish: Short and emphasising salted caramel.
Scapa 14 year old offers surprising body considering the reluctant nose and low end ABV. But, get beyond those and you’re greeted with a solid dram which balances both spirit and wood nicely. Sadly hard to find nowadays, but worth a dram if you spot if lurking behind a bar somewhere.