Dating back to 1832 The Glen Scotia distillery, located in Campbeltown the smallest scotch producing region in Scotland, is one of just three surviving distilleries of the once named Whisky capital of world. Having sampled the goods, you can understand why.
As the name suggest, Glen Scotia is going on tour and Distillery Manager Iain McAlister provides the perfect reasons why “We are the first to admit that Campbeltown isn’t the easiest to get to, but when whisky fans visit Glen Scotia they are deeply impressed by our whiskies and the unique character of the region. The Glen Scotia Grand Tour gives whisky lovers a chance to share that sense of discovery and experience the lure of Campbeltown for themselves.”
Glen Scotia truly does bring Campbeltown to the masses, the immersive pop-up is a full sensory experience. You are greeted by the cobble-stoned walls, local art and photography and assorted whisky paraphernalia one would find in a Victorian Distillery manager’s office. Pieces of old casks scattered about and a gorgeous window view of the Campbeltown harbor give a sense of an office at work. It is no easy feat to make someone feel like they have left London. But The Grand Tour does just that all with the charm and sophistication you would expect from a single malt.
While in some circles it is seen as sacrilege to mix scotch with even a drop or two of water, The Glen Scotia cocktails Proud Mary and Grand Tour prove that a good whisky in the right hands is never a bad thing. The former being a sweet experience for an old-fashioned fan playing tribute to Mary, a love interest of Roberts Burn or more importantly a Campbeltown local. The latter, an exclusive for The Grand Tour itself. Scottish flavours with a prohibition twist give a refreshing kick.
Utterly disarmed by the charm of this seaside town, the immersion continues. Guests are invited into the dunnage warehouse itself. Nothing in the office or the warehouse is by accident, each piece of furniture is designed to aid the authentic experience. Real casks and virtual projections set the scene for the main event. A sampling of three award winning Glen Scotia single malts plus an exclusive taste straight from the casks. Whisky cognisors will know that this is a rare treat.
Round 1. Glen Scotia Double Cask is a classic malt of the region, a combination of first fill bourbon barrels followed by a stint in Pedro Ximenez sherry cask. This double act gives the perfect balance of spicy fruits, vanilla and sea spray with a smooth finish; quintessentially Glen Scotia.
Up next. Glen Scotia 15 Year Old, as the name suggests this single malt is an exercise in patience. Gently matured from specially selected American oak barrels, it’s the refill process that gives this malt whisky a story to tell. A complicated pallet with the zest of ginger snaps and a sherry finish; vanilla oak on the nose. A dash a water if you’re feeling playful to unlock its full potential. However you take it, it’s worth the wait.
The final course, Glen Scotia Victoriana. Hand selected casks from the reserve cellar give this single malt its exceptional character and maturity. Finished in deep charred oak gives it a deep oily look. Dark and sumptuous on the nose with hints of fruits, sugars and fudge, this is a true Victorian whisky. Bottled straight from the cask without filtration to preserve those deep natural colours, rich and jammy to the palette with a smoky aftertaste.
Now if there is one thing that a scotch enthusiast loves more than an encore, it’s drinking straight from the cask. Glen Scotia gives the people what it wants. Distilled especially for The Grand Tour; single bourbon cask, 128.8 fermentation time to keep everything in balance. A delightful rawness to the eye, oily and cloudy. Caramelised sugars on the nose but a slight burn won’t keep you sniffing for long, this is a strong whisky with a subtle maltiness. As Iain McAlister puts it “pure Glen Scotia… Tastes of home”. You will be hard pressed to find a better example of art meeting science, and if you do it won’t taste as good.
Glen Scotia has managed to bottle what it is that makes Campbeltown so special and they are more than happy to share. Next stop for the Grand Tour is the USA in a few months.
For more information on the Glen Scotia Distillery please visit www.glenscotia.com
Sam Brady is a London based freelance writer and photographer covering travel and lifestyle.
Photographs by Sam Brady