Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

A naked Glen Scotia and with (a lot of) wine influence

We are tasting two bottlings out of the Dunnage Warehouse Series, brought back to The Netherlands and then sampled by Nick J. Thanks for that! The background of these two bottles reminded me of a few cask samples I managed to taste during my own visit to Glen Scotia, back in January. Most of my travelling buddies agreed that Glen Scotia straight from a bourbon cask is a delight. A similar cask swept up prices last week during the Whisky Awards. But, after a finish in a wine cask … the quality is less enthusing. All the more reason to jump on the opportunity to buy these samples from Nick. 

Here are my impressions. Remember, Glen Scotia is the dark horse of Campbeltown distilling, always in the shadow of Springbank, but the distillery is turning more and more into a colourful unicorn! The influence of the dedicated Distillery Manager & Master Distiller Iain McAlister? He does seem to bring an optimistic vibe to Glen Scotia.

Glen Scotia 16 years old, 2006 – 2023, bottled at 55,9 % abv

Makeup: A 16 year old Glen Scotia bottled in the Dunnage Warehouse series. Single cask 433 was a first fill bourbon cask and rather exclusively only 35 bottles were made.

General impressions: Oh yes, very crispy, clean, fruity, with nice notes of candy and forest wood. Candy powder actually, do you know the brand Double Dip? Google it. That is the smell. Interesting that the vanilla you would expect is not really there. Is that the interaction between the Glen Scotia spirit and the first fill bourbon cask? Very intriguing.

But then you take a sip. The vanilla is saved for the taste buds. Als a good backbone of wood, almost nearing the ‘over the top’ limit actually. With water not much changes, so I am actually done writing. After a while it does become a little one-dimensional. Straightforward decent bourbon matured whisky. I contemplated putting it in the fridge. Drinking it ice cold from the cask was heaven.

Conclusion: IRN BRU with alcohol infusion. Good stuff, but at one point it stops delivering.

Score: 84 points
Disclaimer: self-bought sample in a share by whiskyfriend Nick Jansen (also provided the photo).

Glen Scotia 13 years old, 2009 – 2023, bottled at 55,1 % abv

Makeup: Exactly 147 bottles were filled from cask 19/359-2. This Glen Scotia was initially matured in a first fill bourbon cask, then finished in a Bordeaux Red Wine cask. One should not assume the “19” in the cask number to mean anything, but I do seem to remember from my own tour of the distillery they did some re-racking in 2019. So, a 4 year finish? Contact me if you know.

General impressions: Gunpowder, sulphur, a Tupperware box filled with spicy Chinese food left out of the fridge too long. It is a style, I suppose, but I can't figure out why it is not established knowledge that whisky and wine don't mingle. The cask has totally destroyed the not even that subtle Glen Scotia spirit. The only excuse I can think of is that the original maturation had not brought anything satisfactory.

Almost seemed like the taste would compensate something. Pleasant red and blue berries on attack, but then all that remains is a tannin overdose. Admittedly, it feels well balanced and all, but on the other hand that is logical with such a dominant wine cask. Not for people who like subtle whisky. This is in your face. And incredibly drying, in an unpleasant way. Textbook winesky.

Conclusion: How does one get to the decision to put carefully cultivated, batch produced single malt spirit in wine casks? There must be a market for this stuff, I checked back with Nick and he actually admitted to being a lover of sulphury whisky. Then I am certainly not the target audience here. Boring, simple, spirit driven bourbon cask for me anytime. My score all the more personal today (as always of course).

Score: 73 points

Disclaimer: self-bought sample in a share by whiskyfriend Nick Jansen (also provided the photo).

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