Sunday, May 29, 2011

Scapa 12 year

Photobucket   Liquid history. That is what Scottish single-malt has been, is, and will continue to be so long as men and women of spirit keep the malting malting, the stills distilling, and the barrels offering up their angels share for that ultimate pleasure granted in the moment when her bounty within the glass whispers sweet nothings from head to toe. For Scapa of Orkney, her story begins along the craggy isles of 1885 where even to this day one can hear the Orkney Boatman’s Song in drift along the winds. The dream of McFarlane and Townsend, it didn’t take long for the malt to be as beautiful as her surrounding landscape splashed in salt, layered in moss and seaweed, and mellowed by a temperate climate.
Though Scapa has changed hands over the years (Scapa Distillery Company Limited in 1919 and Hiram Walker in 1954) a recent effort to breathe renewed vitality into this windswept spirit took off in 2004 with a 16 year replacing their standard 12 year, the same 12 year I tasted. The new Scapa 16 year spends her last couple years maturing in first fill American Oak Casks for a flavor exploration I shall indulge in as soon a bottle sails my way.
In the meantime though, I prepare to delve deep into the 12 year with a renewed respect for this now endangered/extinct spirit. Like the men and women before me, I too shall keep the spirit of this single-malt alive for as long as her bounty within the glass whispers sweet nothings to me.

Color: light straws and hay with golden glints of sunshine. Clear with glimmers shiny copper pennies.

Nose: salt. Honey in the back along with a hit of heat, sharp and to the point. Flambéed apples and plantains. Dried seaweed and nori strips. Sandy shores. Salt water taffy.

Body: surprisingly oily and thick. Mouth-coating with sticky lips and tongue. Medium weight.

Palate: mouth-coating with medium oily weight carries flavors across palate in proper time. Toasted coconut. Flambéed pineapple mingles with the toasted coconut. Seaweed and nori in the finish. Salty on the back of tongue. Apple skins. Peppercorns crunch and crackle along sides while peppering top of tongue along with some dried chilies.

Finish: long and sweet and salty and seaweedy and peppercorny. Lips tingle from first quaff to last and beyond.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get upon choosing the Scapa 12 year as my next dram of choice but that’s half the fun, unexpected surprises and all. Having learned more of the history of this mariners dram, I close my eyes to smell the shore, hear the waves, taste the wind, and feel the warmth of ages long gone but somehow still living, if nothing else, in each drop of Scapa both new and retired.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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