Scapa 2003 19 Year Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange & Scapa The Distillery Reserve Collection cask #678


When we think of Orkney, there's always one distillery that pops into mind.. and for us that's Scapa. We've got a couple of single casks up for review today.

Scapa 2003 19 Year Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange

Region: Highlands

ABV: 56.7%

Price: £185.00

First up today we have a 2003 vintage Scapa, bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange. It was matured in first-fill American oak barrels for 19 years before bottling in August 2022.

Nose

On the nose, there are notes of apple, pear drop sweets, lemon sherbet, Jaffa cakes, orange peel, salt, digestive biscuits, oats, and pepper spice, but just the faintest hint. It has a very fresh aroma. It's easy to nose, and the ABV isn't immediately apparent. A little air reveals notes of toffee, caramel, and pineapple chunks.

Palate

The palate opens with honey, caramel, Biscoff biscuits, pineapple, and milk chocolate. A warming pepper spice from the alcohol carries onto a medium-length finish, outlasting the sweeter notes that also linger. The mouthfeel is good, possessing just the right amount of body. With a little air notes of white musk, ginger and coconut are revealed.

Nose (with water)

With reduction, there's more of a warehouse funk emerging, along with notes of marshmallows, damp clothes in an unventilated room, strawberry laces, wet oak and icing sugar. For us this hasn’t opened up, just changed. Personally, we prefer the undiluted nose.

Palate (with water)

Adding water has muted the pepper spice, yet a residual warmth persists. Tizer, along with sugar syrup and more chocolate, emerges on the palate. The finish maintains its medium length, and the mouthfeel remains largely unchanged. Similar to the nose, the addition of water has altered rather than opened up the dram.

Conclusion

It’s a lovely dram, but if we’re being nit-picky and we usually are the finish lets it down slightly. Saying that it’s still good enough to score a 8/10.

Score: 8/10

Value

It's pretty pricey, but cask strength Scapa is a rare thing.


Scapa The Distillery Reserve Collection cask #678

Region: Highlands

ABV: 61.6%

Price: ~£85.00 (auction, 50cl)

This bottling, distilled on the 22nd of March 2006, was left to mature in a first-fill Sherry butt for 13 years. It was bottled on the 28th of May 2019, in a release comprising 900 bottles.

Nose

On the nose, there are aromas of bubblegum, summer fruit cordial, figs, and plums, along with a certain quality reminiscent of cognac. The alcohol is well integrated, not giving away its hefty ABV. Upon revisiting, notes of strawberry and raspberry coulis with cream, grape must, prunes, and toffee emerge. It's a bit simple, yet pleasant.

Palate

The summer fruit cordial noted on the nose carries through to the palate, accompanied by tobacco, cracked black pepper, brown sugar, liquorice, stewed rhubarb, and an intriguing herbal note. It is exceptionally sweet, with a pleasing alcohol bite and a syrupy mouthfeel. The sweeter flavours linger, contributing to a long finish.

Nose (with water)

Adding a splash of water reveals treacle and toffee notes, while also highlighting the stewed rhubarb on the reduced nose. The cognac and brandy notes previously detected are now more subdued, pushed into the background.

Palate (with water)

With reduction, some of the fruitiness has diminished, and this has accentuated the spice, giving this a note of sweet chilli sauce. Similar to the bourbon cask we tried, there's an increased presence of warehouse funk. Traditional sherry notes such as toffee and caramel are now more pronounced. The finish continues to be of good length, and the mouthfeel remains consistent.

Conclusion

The herbal note on the palate might not appeal to everyone, and it certainly gave us pause. However, from a technical standpoint, this is a high-quality whisky, albeit not suited to all tastes.

Score: 8/10

Value

Only available at auction, and we’ll let you make up your own minds if you’re willing to pay the asking price.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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