Day twenty-two has arrived, and we are looking at very few doors left to open on the 2019 KWM Whisky Calendar. December has been a blur, and doing all of this whisky tasting (in the name of SCIENCE!) may not have helped, but I do believe this is our first foray into Campbeltown. It is time to crack open that door and reveal the Glen Scotia Victoriana Single Malt Scotch.
Campbeltown is home to three distilleries: Springbank, Glengyle (bottled as Kilkerran), and Glen Scotia. Like its ‘Wee Toon’ cohort Springbank, the Glen Scotia Distillery itself is chock-full of grimy, victorian, and industrial character in all of the right ways. Also like both Springbank and Kilkerran, Glen Scotia Distillery lies within the town itself.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, back when Campbeltown was a more industry-driven place and with a more bustling fishing port, Glen Scotia had neighboring distilleries on the other sides of the walls that encase its lot. At this time, the story goes, the town had more distilleries than churches which themselves numbered more than thirty. Boom times eventually went bust, and for quite a while only two distilleries remained in the town, though that could have been considered one and a half for how little Glen Scotia operated in the early 2000s.
Andrew tells stories of visiting the distillery more than a decade ago, when it was only sporadically in operation, and very uncared for. Much of the distillery equipment was falling apart. When Andrew and I visited in October of 2019, times had obviously changed. We had a great tour through Glen Scotia’s operations, led by Distillery Manager Iain McAlister and saw that everything was in operation, the stillhouse had thick coats of paint over nearly every surface possible, and the stills were polished and running.
Glen Scotia Distillery just so happens to be owned the the Loch Lomond Group, which we have seen three times already in this year’s calendar with the Inchmurrin 18 Year, the Inchmoan 12 Year, and the Loch Lomond 18 Year. Glen Scotia itself has a fairly robust lineup of five core releases at the moment, including the Double Cask, Victoriana, 15 Year Old, 18 Year Old, and 25 Year Old. There has even been a release of a 45 Year Old, though this is a lot more difficult and a lot more expensive to come by.
We were also lucky enough to select our own cask from Glen Scotia this year, which arrived in June. It is the first official Glen Scotia Single Cask to be sold in Canada and also possibly in North American as a whole. I am biased because I helped pick it, but it is a stunning whisky, just shy of twenty years of age and full of complexity. You can read about it (and possibly grab one before it sells out!) here: Glen Scotia 1999 KWM Cask No. 359
Let’s talk about the Glen Scotia Victoriana since that is what we will be tasting today. The bottle lists no age statement, but according to Glen Scotia the whisky is carefully sourced from exceptional casks before being married together in heavily charred oak casks and then bottled at high – possibly cask – strength.
Please note that the 50ml bottle of Victoriana is actually from a newer batch than the full-sized bottle currently available on our shelves and in other shops around Alberta. The full-sized batch we have is bottled at 51.5% ABV. The 50ml mini bottle in our 2019 KWM Whisky Calendar is bottled at 54.2% ABV.
“Each cask is chosen for its rare character and exceptional maturity. Finished in deep charred oak, the result is an exceptionally smooth single malt whisky whose aroma and flavour work in harmony. Bottled in the traditional way straight from the cask and without filtration, its subtle wood and vanilla flavour is enhanced by a full-bodied spicy fruit aroma and mildly smokey aftertaste.”
Evan’s Tasting Note
Nose: Salty black licorice, miso, soy sauce, pistachio nuts, peanut oil, peach puree, brandied cherries, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and hot mulled apple cider with a cinnamon stick for stirring.
Palate: Oily and ashy with salt and pepper, burnt caramel, sticky toffee pudding, licorice tea, hazelnuts and Nutella, sarsaparilla, warm and melting smores, dark bread with molasses,
Finish: Ashy, nutty and creamy with salty macadamia nuts and a hint of peach and pear nectar on the fade.
Comment: It has been a while since I tasted the older 51.5% version of the Victoriana, but from what I remember I would say the 54.2% version is a touch less oily and just a hint lighter in style. I wouldn’t say either is better or worse than the other, I enjoy both. They are more just variations of a theme, and that is a good thing.
This only enhances my newfound appreciation of Glen Scotia Distillery and its whisky. I look forward to tasting more from them in the future. If you are a Springbank fan and have not explored what Glen Scotia has to offer, you should probably do the same!
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*The Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar is produced under license from Secret Spirits, Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar™