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The Scapa, is a single malt which has eluded me for a long time being a youthfull whisky amateur, although the location can wake the attention out of anyone who has a keen interest in military and especially naval history. The location in question is the Scapa flow, which is renowned for being the England's most important naval base during the course of the first&second World Wars. It is also notorious for having very violent streams, which is one of the main reasons why it was reputed for it's safety and thus chosen as a safehaven for the brittish naval fleet during those troublesome times. These reasons alongside the fact it is rather remote and isolated, being the islands of orkney.
Scapa distillery is, thus, the southern brother to the well famous Highland Park, Orkney's other distillery and most famous. This malt, having lived for some time under the shadow of it's more famous northern brother, is often overlooked, which is a shame.
Nose: The nose suggests meadow honey and even creamier honey, or honey mixed with cream? Also salt, salty seashores/ seabreeze. It soothes rather than racket your senses, a strong contradiction to the reputed strength of the Scapa flow. Some vanilla and complex malt accompany the ensemble.
Palate: More fo the same but bigger with one great addition for my part: The honey is, sure enough, the first to arrive but instead of going meadow honey and honey-cream it introduces the malt and salinty with a winning combo of sea-salted butter on fresh toast with meadow honey on top, this helps to crack the mystery of the understated creamy-honeyed nose.
The malt and honey takes over from the delicious salty-honey toast. They become even more complex with water as the honey note becomes more bitter towards manuka honey, and the malt shows of some grainy complexity alongside some added vanilla mixed with the honey.
The finnish makes a swift encore of the sweet/creamy honey this time riding on a malt&toffe bed finnish off with a honey-malt and a type of berry that seems familiar to me, as a northern swede, could it be cloudberry? Seems like it!
After many mixed, with some dreadfull, reviews (Jim Murray included) i must say that i don't see what all the fuss is about. Sure.. it is not the most complex and BIG whisky there is, but that wasn't what i was expecting anyway, what i found was a decent, complex and very satisfying alternative to the Dalwhinnie 15 as my favourite standard honey-malt. Maybe it is because, as a child in sweden, where salted butter is standard. I grew very fond of the salty butter with honey on toast in the morning. Some childhood delicatess's stay there while being knocked off by some more adult&mature acquired tastes. But some define your palate for life, and who you are, and that taste is one of those for me.
If this was bottled at higher strength, with more care in the presentation and a more composed/ longer finish this would be among my favourites. My dear Dad was the one who offered me to sample this, and he also happen to have a single cask from this distillery, makes me intrigued.
Decent whisky, unjustly treated in my opinion, i will knock a couple of marks of as i want to be pragmatic about my reviews and consider the fact that their is a flavour in this malt that is close to custom-made for me. It still remains an untapped little prize, that deserves it's time in the light soon enough.