Poor Campbeltown. Once the capital of scotch whisky, home to 29 distilleries in 1835, the town now has just three: siblings Springbank and Glengyle, and Glen Scotia. Springbank usually gets all the credit for propping up Campbeltown’s signature style, but to overlook Glen Scotia is to miss out on another dimension of this historic and still vibrant whisky region.
Less peated than Springbank, Glen Scotia single malt is incredibly robust and oily, with a texture so oleaginous as to be visceral, spreading across the tongue and practically oozing down the throat. Describing its flavors as maritime doesn’t do justice to the briny buffet of salt air that wafts out of the glass, nor the mouthwatering salinity that coats fresh orchard fruit—when the maturation is primarily in bourbon casks—and dried fruit and nuts when there’s sherry influence. Whatever Glen Scotia you drink, look for citrus and cigar wrapper throughout.
Like so many Campbeltown distilleries, Glen Scotia was shuttered in 1930—98 years after its founding—and the distillery saw periods of closure and revival as it changed hands throughout the 20th century. But production has been steady recently, and the last few years have brought investment in the distillery’s equipment, visitor facilities, and the maturation program, with limited editions like Campbeltown Malts Festival releases, which usually employ cask finishes, bearing delicious fruit. Although its whisky was once mainly used for blends, Glen Scotia is now focused on its single malt—and it has certainly found its footing.
Glen Scotia Victoriana
90 points, 51.5% ABV, $90
Dried fruits, pralines, and rich oak find perfect counterweights in citrus, spice, and saline, tied together with a thick, buttery mouthfeel.