Back in its heyday, Campbeltown had some 30 whisky distilleries in full operation and garnered a reputation as the whisky capital of the world. Whilst those days are now long gone, there are still 3 distilleries in operation – Springbank, Glengyle, and Glen Scotia – and the Campbeltown Malts Festival was started in 2009 to still recognise and celebrate the region for its malts. Given the state of the world right now and the inevitable repercussions of That-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named, this year’s festival was cancelled albeit, still with produce waiting ready in the wings for the event. Glen Scotia took the virtual lead and stepped forward to collaborate with The Dram Team to post out samples for a virtual whisky festival, allowing for its latest release to be enjoyed by many. The distillery arranged for none other than Charles Maclean to introduce its new festival release via a streamed web session and here is a sample of that liquid: The Glen Scotia Campbeltown Malts Festival 2020 Limited Edition release – a 14 year old single malt with a Tawny Port finish. The distillery have provided transparency over its origins too, confirming that the original peated spirit was first aged in first fill barrels and then transferred to American oak hogsheads which had been aged with tawny port to finish (and giving it a nice pinky hue to boot). The bottle is still available in certain places (at the time of writing) around the £75 price point and it has been bottled at its cask strength of 52.8% ABV.
For something within its early teens, it’s starting with a tight, closed smell. Despite being a scotch from one of the longest standing and revered scotch whisky regions – the first real impressions are quite English in nature: Strawberries and cream. And honestly the more I smell it, the more it smells like a cream tea – the strawberry jam, the crumbly scone, the (clotted) cream and even a smoky tea leaf note. The sweet treats keep coming with berries and salted caramel.
The sweet dessert flavours continue with apple and blackberries. Maybe served up hot in a crumble actually. With custard. It really fills the mouth with juicy fruit flavours and the alcohol brightness seems to bring some real zest. The malt seems to be delivering a delicious oaty crumbly biscuit to support it all.
The high alcohol content only really let’s it power be known at the end with a firey roar and flash of peppery heat. When it does subside the remnants of the cream tea reappear with the crumbs of raisin-filled scones, and their smears of cream and jam – only a little traditional peat flavour makes an appearance behind it all purely as an accompaniment.
This is such a big and fruity whisky. It’s not your usual fruity notes of apples pears or oranges though – we’re talking real red fruits and berries. The alcohol content keeps it all fresh on the nose and palate too and, if I’d have tasted this blind, I wouldn’t have guessed it would be as old as 14 years. That’s a good payoff for the age and ABV count. I have tried several different Glen Scotia whiskies now and they always seems to deliver up something different, and ultimately, delicious. When looking at this one price-wise, it’s starting to get pretty high and stretching those purse strings, but it is gorgeous. Also, if you are going to spend £75 on a whisky, then you’d be wanting something that stands out, and this does – let’s. It forget that you’ll get a little extra alcoholic bang for your buck too with it being cask strength. I’m glad to have been able to try this one and have seen a a LOT of blog posts about it, but I wanted to keep my mind open and am glad that I did – also, when you start to spend this kind of money on a bottle then you really should try before you buy.
Sample disclosure: This sample was received as part of the Summerton Virtual Whisky Festival tasting pack that came with the ticket to the event. A well organised event with great drams and contributions from the whisky makers and fans alike. All notes here are intended as an honest, fair and independent review of the whisky itself and not as a promotion. Please drink responsibly, and most importantly, wisely.