The Campbeltown Malts Festival is happening this week, so I thought I should get my act together and finally review this festival bottling from last year that’s been staring at me on the shelf ever since I returned from my Scotland escapades late last summer. Once a booming center of whisky production, Campbeltown is now the smallest Scotch whisky region with only three operating distilleries, one of which, Glen Scotia, is the producer of this unique single malt. This young whisky is made from heavily peated malt matured for seven and a half years in 100% first-fill bourbon barrels before a final 12-month finish in Pedro Ximenez hogsheads. Without further ado.
The aroma is at first quite fresh with notes of baked apples, dried mango, and toasted malts. The fruit notes start to take things in a sweeter direction, but the peat, while not exactly heavy, reins that in with struck matchheads and pickle brine. As it opens further an earthy component develops with pencil shavings and wet clay. The Pedro Ximenez doesn’t make itself easily known, revealing subtle baking cocoa and coffee beans but only after a few minutes in the glass. It’s quite a layered and diverse aroma for a younger single malt. On the palate, this is a bold, honeyed whisky, approachable even at a generous proof with an oily and almost chewy body. Notes of mango, grilled fish, damp tobacco, and lemon marmalade on burnt toast offer up a dynamic profile that’s sweet, savory, and a touch sour with a lacing of bonfire smoke throughout. It’s a lot to process but worth the contemplation. The finish is long and clinging with slightly sour goats milk caramels (sea salted, of course), grilled pineapple, and smoked fish. As festival bottlings go, this is a real bargain.
A- / $80 / glenscotia.com