Campbeltown, the whiskymaking region on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula, is now practically synonymous with the Springbank distillery. For a region that once boasted 30 distilleries to be reduced to three is a shame, and is evidence of the ebbs and flows of fortune that the whisky industry is subject to. Really, even well-stocked whisky shops these days carry only Springbank, Longrow, and Hazelburn (which are both also made at Springbank), so it might surprise some newbies to learn that Campbeltown is also home to the Glengyle distillery (Kilkerran) and the Glen Scotia distillery.
Early in my whisky journey I remember tasting (but not reviewing) a Glen Scotia 10 or 12 year and being so thoroughly unimpressed that I didn’t even write any notes. Probably at the time I thought “this might be better with some age on it” and passed it by. So, finding a sample of Glen Scotia 15 at Master of Malt (which no longer ships to the US, curse them), I thought it high time to give this Campbeltown revenant some representation on the blog. Also, I’ve rarely had a 15 year-old scotch that didn’t agree with me. What could go wrong?
Glen Scotia makes a small amount of heavily-peated malt, but most of its products are very lightly peated at around 15 ppm. This 15 year-old is aged in ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at 46% ABV without chill filtration (but possibly with added coloring). The Glen Scotia product line was revamped and relaunched in 2015.
Nose: Slightly meaty, with a dose of beeswax, fungal earth, and very faint peat (not smoke). Some sulfur, but not to the “rotten eggs” degree. There is a note of lemon peel, but it is in the background. Not sweet.
Palate: Thin body. Beeswax again. After a mild tongue burn, it becomes nutty (nougat and/or marzipan) and a little bitter (walnut skins). Like the aroma, there is a distinct lack of sweetness.
Finish: Medium-short. Dry, a little woody. More charcoal, and bitter at that, than I like. Fades with only a hint of sweetness, in the form of caramel.
With Water: The addition of a few drops of water brings a little sweetness in the form of ripe banana and vanilla cake frosting. Water is a pleasant addition with this dram.
Overall: This is not something I would choose over any comparably-priced malt. It is too dry without having complexity to justify the lack of sweetness. There is nothing floral about it, and precious little fruit. The 15 years in oak have lent a bit of mature woodiness, but also appear to have added a bit too much bitterness and charcoal. The earthy mild peat on the nose is interesting, but doesn’t warrant the purchase of a bottle, especially not if you can get a good price on Springbank 10.