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Scapa Glansa (Single Malt Whisky)

Review: Scapa Glansa (Single Malt Whisky)   (79/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 12, 2017

This is the fourth Single Malt Whisky which I tasted at the Beyond Islay tasting event hosted by Ryan Engen who is the Director of Spirits, for Liquor Stores N.A. Inc. at the Edmonton Wine and Beyond McTagggert Ridge location. At the tasting I enjoyed 7 different Single Malts in what was termed the Beyond Islay Single Malt Whisky Tasting. The Whiskies at the tasting were selected to represent the diversity of Scotland’s Island Whiskies reaching beyond the popular Islay Whiskies to the malts produced on the lesser known Islands. Scapa Glansa continues our exploration of the Island of Orkney in the north of Scotland.

The Scapa distillery is located on the shore of Scapa Flow near the town of Kirkwall. It is the second most northern whisky distillery in Scotland, being half a mile farther south than the Highland Park Distillery. The distillery was founded in 1885 by Macfarlane & Townsend. In the 1950s the facility was purchased by Hiram Walker & Sons (now part of Pernod Ricard); however in 1994 production was discontinued and the distillery was mothballed. In 2004 a decision was made by Pernod Ricard to rebuild and restore the facility, and new spirit began to be produced in November of that year.

September 2016 marked the launch of Scapa Glansa, the latest single malt whisky expression from the Orcadian distillery, Scapa. This is the first peated whisky from the Scapa range and brings a unique flavour that represents the diverse and unexpected contrasts of the island it is distilled upon.

Scapa Glansa (named after the Old Norse word for shining storm-laden skies) was launched in September, 2016. It was produced by a team of six persons (including the Master Distiller) working in the small, manually operated Scapa distillery. The expression was created by taking the signature Scapa malt, which is aged in American Oak casks, and further resting it in peated casks.

According to Scapa Master Distiller, Brian MacAulay:

“Scapa Glansa is the perfect invitation for whisky lovers to discover the Orcadian landscape. We are proud to offer this as a gentle introduction to the world of peated whiskies, and it has been a real pleasure drawing on the inspiration of the unexpected contrasts of Orkney to create Scapa Glansa …”

The whisky is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

scapa-glansa-75cl-bottleIn the Bottle 5/5

Scapa Glansa arrives in a nice display box (not shown) which piques the interest of the consumer. There is just enough information on the box to keep that interest growing, and inside the box the whisky is held in a medium tall bottle with attractive labeling. The bottles are closed with high density cork stoppers which give me that nice satisfying ‘pop’ when I open them.

In the Glass 8/10

The whisky displays itself with an amber colour, and when I tilt and twirl my glencairn I see a thin film, the crest of which releases long slender legs. The initial nose is light and somewhat musty. There is a soft ashy peat in the background with scents of willow trees and fresh hay in the foreground. I also sense some fruity notes of pear, banana and pineapple with a mild sweep of vanilla and almond. The glass does not change much as I let the whisky breathe, and my feeling is that we have a young dram that is somewhat undeveloped at this point.

In the Mouth 46.5/60

The whisky carries a bit of astringency in the delivery with a bite of citrus zest and the brashness of youth. Fine oak spice and butterscotch are somewhat obscured by the smokiness of the dram as are some light fruit flavours of apricot and pear. The whisky underneath the peat tastes young and undeveloped, and the peated flavour itself seemed almost the same. Drawing peat from a barrel is not the same as bringing about that smoky flavour from peated barley. I found sipping the dram difficult, perhaps my suggested cocktail is a better way to enjoy the dram (see recipe below).

In the Throat 11.5/15

The whisky fades out during a finish which I found rather bland and uninteresting. There is nothing really wrong in the exit, but then again there is nothing really right about it either.

The Afterburn  8/10

Scapa Glansa tries to be different with a peated profile which comes from a re-used barrel rather than from peated barley. For myself this is a very disappointing dram. My feeling as I sipped the whisky was that the producers knew that the spirit was not developed fully and decided to finish the whisky in ex-peated whisky barrels to cover over the weak spots. It really doesn’t work as the peat drawn from the barrel is more of a mild smoke that blurs but does not hide the undeveloped whisky.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

SAM_1027 Mamie TaylorThe Mamie Taylor Cocktail

2 oz Scapa Glansa
2 oz Ginger Ale
1 1/2 oz Club Soda
1/2 Lime (fresh squeezed)

Add the Ice-cubes to a Collins glass
Pour the Whisky over the ice
Add Ginger Ale, Soda and Lime juice
Stir and garnish with a lime slice

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As usual, you may interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-25   A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


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