A Bright, Figgy Treat from Campbeltown
“Whisky from the Whiskiest Place in the World” – Glen Scotia’s Victoriana is a dangerously lovely and easy sipper. Coming in at cask strength, it drinks as if the ABV was MUCH lower.
Part of the Campbeltown Three
Located in the Kintyre peninsula of Scotland, Campbeltown was known as the Whisky Capital of the World. Once bustling with more than 30 distilleries, today, there are just three – the minimum to classify as a whisky region.
But what the region lacks in quantity it makes up in absolute quality. All three distilleries: Glen Scotia, Springbank (including Longrow and Hazelburn), and Glengyle (Kilkerran) produce distinctive, exceptional, and sought-after whiskies.
Glen Scotia is the Gloria Gaynor of Campbeltown, declaring – I Will Survive!
Since 1832, this scrappy survivor distillery has endured trials and tribulations, and a head-spinning number of ownership changes that left the distillery haggard and drained. Its resurgence started in 1999 with another run of owners. More investments brought Glen Scotia into its glorious present state while retaining original elements including the mashtun, stillroom and dunnage warehouse.
The Victoriana was introduced in 2015 as a non-age statement expression. This version is 51.5% ABV and seems to be an older one as most recent Victoriana bottlings are at 54.2%. The use of deeply re-charred bourbon casks is a “throw back” to the way whisky was made during the Victorian era.
Most Glen Scotia expressions are non-peated. The distillery makes peated runs about six weeks of the year. Glen Scotia produces close to 800K litres per year, about the same its Campbeltown neighbors, Springbank and Glengyle.
Distillery: Glen Scotia (glen-SKO-sha)
NCF/Color: Yes/natural color
Date Bottled: 2018
Cask: Heavily-charred, refill bourbon cask
Fun Fact: Ghost of former head distiller Duncan MacCallum has been seen lurking about the distillery. Scary!
Let’s Pour a Dram…
Color: Light amber, somewhat oily.
Nose: Bright and malty with caramel and sweet candied pecans.
Palate: Baked figs balanced with bright pears and a little honey and vanilla. Touch of smoke rolls into spiciness. Super easy to drink.
Finish: After initial heat, ripe, earthy figs linger with bits of cinnamon and dark chocolate.
Sampling it Neat….
The green glass bottle hides Victoriana’s lovely amber glow. The slightly oily texture coats your mouth without being too much. The nose is as bright as the color giving up lovely flavors of malt, creamy caramel, and candied pecans. There is no alcohol burn at all – even at cask strength.
A taste or two yields baked, earthy figs (like the filling of a Fig Newton cookie) and fresh, tart pears that balance each other very well. Wispy hints of honey and vanilla appear before a flare of burnt match rolls into a slow spicy burn. The dram is an incredibly easy sipper – so beware. This 51.5% expression sips like at 43%. The finish rolls on for a while, moving from figs to the bite of strong cinnamon to a velvety dark chocolate.
With a little water…
After a couple hefty doses of water, the dram holds true. Very impressive. The nose is slightly lighter but the palate and finish don’t lose their identity. Very nice.
This is the first bottle I’ve killed before I published the review. I’m more than slightly proud of that! In fairness, I took my time, but I also enjoyed the hell out of this and, when deciding what dram, I’d like to enjoy, went to this bottle more often than not. I take that as a good sign.
I found this bottle for $80 while on vacation. I feel that is more than fair. Yes, it is a non-age statement (NAS) expression. Some argue that transparency in age is important to justify the price point. My definition of value was met with this bottle and I’m ready to replace it.
I’ll also make a point to share it with some Bourbonite friends who are just entering the world of Scotch whisky. They are in for a treat.
By the Way…
This bottle shot was taken in my back yard under the Live Oak tree and native azalea that blooms with delicate and deliriously fragrant blooms each spring.
Links to other YouTubers for their reviews.
Scotch Test Dummies – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e4zgcO6epI
Whiskey Vault – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyjPJW0tSsQ