Scapa – 16 year old and Skiren (40%)

Island, whisky


Scapa distillery is a Scotch whisky distillery situated on The Mainland of Orkney, Scotland on the shore of Scapa Flow near the town of Kirkwall. Scapa is the second most northern whisky distillery in Scotland, being half a mile farther south than the Highland Park Distillery.

The distillery has one wash still and one spirit still producing a single malt (unblended) whisky. It is an especially honey flavoured whisky, and less peaty than most Island Whiskies. This is because, though the water at the source is peaty, it gets transported to the distillery through pipelines to avoid more contact with the peat. Furthermore, the malt is not dried over peat smoke.

The distillery, founded in 1885 by Macfarlane & Townsend, was during the 1950s acquired by Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd (now part of Pernod Ricard) and rebuilt. In 1994 it was mothballed, and faced definitive closure in 2004. During that period, the most commonly available edition was the Scapa 12 years old, which was and still is a most distinctive island whisky for its subtle heathery honey plus sea taste. Still, it was decided to rebuild/restore the distillery, and the first new spirit in 10 years flowed in November 2004. Because of the time-gap, it was decided to stop the 12 years and introduce the 14 years, which is quite different from its predecessor, even though the basic characteristics are intact.


The whisky is a golden colour with a light syrupy consistency as it’s rolled around the glass. I added a half tea spoon of water to allow the whisky to open up.

The nose is initially citrus forward with notes of orange peel followed by a malt sweetness. As the nose develops there is a woody spicy aroma of allspice, cloves, a little black pepper and sea salt. The nose finishes with a sweet honey and oak dryness.

The flavour is smooth, rich and full on. With honey comb & toffee sweetness followed by a citrus (Seville marmalade). The flavour is softer than expected and finishes with a dry oak note.

The finish is long with drying oak spicyness and faint brine (sea air note).


Skiren is Scapa’s new release for 2015 and is matured in first fill American oak casks. The name comes from the Old Norse word for “glittering bright skies”.

I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass and added a teaspoon of water to allow the whisky to open up.

The nose is instantly sweet with honey and vanilla. There are hints of apple and white grape which are followed by a soft spicy aroma of aniseed and cinnamon.

The flavour is rich and creamy with hits of honey, pear and lemon rind which sparkle through balancing the richness. There are drier hints of oak and a long lasting vanilla cream note. The balance of this whisky is just incredible!

The finish is not as long as the 16 but the sweet and spicy notes linger after drinking.

Scapa continue to produce amazing whisky. Sadly the 16 year old is no longer available but for the price the NAS Skiren is a whisky of great quality!

Skiren is available from Master of Malt HERE! I can’t recomend it highly enough!



LAPHROAIG 18 Year Old (70CL, 48.0%)

Islay, whisky


The Laphroaig distillery was established in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston.

The distillery stayed in the family until 1954 when the last of the Johnston family died and it was left to one of his managers, Bessie Williamson.

The distillery was sold to Long John International in the 1960s, and subsequently became part of Allied Domecq. The brand was in turn acquired by Fortune Brands in 2005, as one of the brands divested by Pernod Ricard in order to obtain regulatory approval for its takeover of Allied Domecq.

Fortune Brands then split up its business product lines in 2011, forming its spirits business into Beam Inc. Beam was then purchased by Suntory Holdings in April 2014.
Laphroaig has a unique flavour, one which provokes highly polarised opinions I have heard it described from wonderful to horrible from exquisite to disgusting but I always find it has great charm and is always challenges the senses.
The water source for Laproaig is The Kilbride Dam which feeds 3 wash stills and 4 spirit stills producing 2.6 million litres a year.


The whisky is a golden colour on rolling around the glass is a touch syrupy and leaves long legs around the glass. I added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for 10 minutes.
The nose is heavy in rich smokey and spicy aromas. This is a beast of a whisky bottled at 48% but is in no way harsh, this is Laphroaig but in a sophisticated guise!! The aroma pushes immediate smoke followed by citrus, apples, a little cinnamon & mace, followed by even more smoke!

The flavour has peat smoke but not in any harsh way, demerara sugar, vanilla a little ginger and spice follow the smokiness. These brash rich foreground flavours give way to sweet malt and then brine which reminds me of a cold smokery with the wood and peat elements remaining prominent.

The finish is very long with malt, oak and with a sweet spiciness which combines wonderfully with the peat smoke. The whisky is very complex and smooth.

This is a wonderful whisky which would be a great surprise to those expecting ultra peat and smoke. the flavour is more complex and sophisticated than I expected and is definately a dram to savour!

This is available from Master of Malt HERE!

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2007 (70cl, 50.0%)

Islay, whisky


Bruichladdich was built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers: William, John and Robert on the shore of Loch Indaal, on the Rinns of Islay, the westernmost part of the island. The Harveys were a dynastic whisky family that had owned two Glasgow distilleries since 1770. Using an inheritance, the three brothers combined their talents to build a third distillery—Bruichladdich—designed by John, engineered by Robert, and financed by William and other family members. At the time, the distillery was a state-of-the-art design unlike Islay’s older distilleries, which had developed from old farm buildings. It was built from stone from the sea shore and has a very efficient layout, built around a large, spacious courtyard.

The uniquely tall and narrow-necked stills were chosen to produce a very pure and original spirit, the opposite of the styles produced by the older farm distilleries. Bruichladdich was run by William Harvey, after a quarrel with his brothers before the distillery was even completed, until a fire in 1934 and his death in 1936. Over the next forty years it subsequently changed owners several times as a result of corporate take-overs and rationalisation of the industry, narrowly avoiding closure until 1994, when it was shut down as being ‘surplus to requirements’.

The distillery was subsequently purchased by a group of private investors led by Mark Reynier of Murray McDavid on 19 December 2000. Jim McEwan, who had worked at Bowmore Distillery since the age of 15, was hired as master distiller and production director. Between January and May 2001 the whole distillery was dismantled and reassembled, with the original Victorian décor and equipment retained. Having escaped modernisation, most of the original Harvey machinery is still in use today. No computers are used in production with all processes controlled by a pool of skilled artisans who pass on information orally and largely measure progress using dipsticks and simple flotation devices.

On 23 July 2012, it was announced that Rémy Cointreau reached an agreement with Bruichladdich to buy the distillery for a sum of £58m.
Blenders Whyte and Mackay acquired the distillery in 1993. Just two years later, production ceased and in 2000 the distillery was purchased by Murray McDavid for £6.5m. The former Bowmore manager, Jim McEwan was brought in as Production Director, and in July of 2001 distillation began once more.


Islay Barley is a very interesting whisky which has been made to illustrate just how much of a barring the barley has on the whisky. The barley it’s self is from the Rockside Farm, harvested in 2006 and then distilled in 2007. The distillery has used a very slow distillation process to try and coax as much flavour and complexity from the unpeated grain in to the whisky as possible.

I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added two and a half teaspoons of water and left the whisky covered to develop for fifteen minutes.

The whisky is a light bright golden colour with a slight haze. On rolling around the glass the whisky has a light syrupy consistency and leaves light legs around the inside of the glass.

The nose is soft and floral with heather honey, seaweed and a maritime salty air feel to it. It reminds me of standing in a field not too farm from the sea in summer. Notes of apple mint and dark berries follow and are rounded off by a light sweet toffee note in the background.

The flavour has notes of apple, mint and a soft sweet grain note which come forward. This is followed by a note of salt and a prickle of ginger. This is rounded out by a soft wood note in the background.

The finish lingers with soft hits of grain sweetness and a dry woody note.

This is a hugely complex and engaging whisky for its age and illustrates its point beautifully!

The whisky is available from the distillery HERE!


ABK6 VSOP Cognac (70cl, 40.0%)


Another month, another international spirit review. This time from Cognac in France.

ABK6 is a fairly new Cognac Brand which received it’s name from the makers surname: Abecassis. In modern language this is translated to the more trendy name ABK6.
ABK6 is convinced that blending “eaux de vie” coming from a Single Estate gives the Cognac a inimitable character and depth.
“Aromatic power, fresh scents, complex tastes: my cognacs are designed for those looking for dense and clear cut sensations which reflect the hills of our vineyards, open to the sun and southerly winds.”
To extract the fruit of the terroirs, Abecassis have decided to master each step of production on their estates. This is why they have built a highly qualified team whose members fulfill their tasks with the required skills, care and love.
The three brands Francis Abecassis is offering are ABK6, LEYRAT and REVISEUR, they have been awarded by more than 60 medals in major international tasting competitions in the past five years.
Domaines ABK6 also received a trophy in 2010 at the international Spirit Challenge in London: The “Excellence in Craftsmanship” award celebrates our company for the know-how and the quality of the work established on the estate, from the vineyard to the glass of cognac.


I poured the cognac in to a Copita nosing glass and left covered for 15 minutes to allow the Cognac to develop. I added one teaspoon of water before tasting.

A rich golden, amber colour the Cognac leaves long legs on the side of the glass. The spirit has a light syrup quality when rolled round the glass.

The nose is initially quite soft with notes of apple and dried fruit, this is followed by spice notes of cinnamon and a softer peppery note. The taste finishes with notes of toffee and stewed fruit.

The flavour is rich with notes of spice. Notes of caraway and Cinnamon come through to start. This is followed by notes of pear and apricot and a slight twang of ginger.

The finish rich with spices and fruit, which fade toward a drier wood/oaky note.

Over all this spirit is vibrant with fruits and spices and would be engaging to the beginner and to those who are more experience with Cognac!

Well worth looking up from Master of Malt HERE!


Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old (40.0%)

Highland, whisky


The first Lochnagar distillery was destroyed in a fire in 1824 and a replacement again burnt down in 1841. In 1845 John Begg built the “new” Lochnagar. The distillery was awarded its Royal Warrant in 1848 when John Begg invited technology geek Prince Albert to visit the distillery from the nearby Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s residence in the Highlands. The next day the distillery was visited by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children.

Royal Lochnagar is situated on the banks of the River Dee taking its name from the nearby mountain. Owned by Diageo, the distillery produces a relatively small amount of whisky, the total capacity being at less than half a million litres annually. This makes Royal Lochnagar Diageo’s smallest distillery, though the premises are used for whisky education and training purposes. The new make spirit is filled on site though and 1,000 casks are matured in-house, with the remainder sent to Glenlossie. Most of which is used in Johnnie Walker black and blue label whereas it was at one time one of the main components of VAT69. It still retains the traditional distillery appearance – with its two pagoda kiln heads.


A light amber colour, on rolling around the glass the whisky is syrupy and leaves long legs around the glass. I added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for 10 minutes.

Nose Wood shavings, subdued a bit, toffee sweet cereal
Taste Honey sweet, caramel, fresh becoming more acidic, slight smoke, warmth, very smooth.

The finish is medium length lots of barley and cereal perhaps a little oak.

This is an excellent whisky very smooth and clean with a freshness on the palate. It has a surprising warmth for such a fresh dram. A fine pre meal dram.

Real value for money this whisky is available from Master of Malt HERE!