The Thanksgiving season is always so much fun, but it’s also a time when it can be pretty darn hard to get anything done. Between travel, family visits, and extra work obligations, many things I want to work on can easily fall by the wayside. And recently, this poor blog has gotten a bit of neglect! But now I’m back, and quite thankful for the tasty drams I have lined up to review. Today I’m here to kick off December with one that’s brand new to me, and newly available stateside: Glen Scotia Victoriana.
Until recently, the only Campbeltown Whiskies I had tried had been distilled by Springbank. I’d heard of Glen Scotia, but because of its lack of availability here, I’d never had the chance to try it. Now, thankfully, the Loch Lomond Group (the independent whisky brand that’s the parent company for Glen Scotia and quite a few other malts and blends) has brought this spirit Stateside, and I’ve had an opportunity to dive in.
Based on my prior experiences with Springbank, Longrow, and Hazelburn, I always figured I’d like Glen Scotia, because I’m such a fan of that sweet, funky, and briny Campbeltown profile. Glen Scotia Victoriana delivers in spades! This is a salty-sweet, fruity toffee bomb, and I really like it!
Victoriana is a cask-strength whisky, finished in “deep charred oak” (which makes me assume ex-bourbon casks), and that’s definitely evident from the spices that emerge on the nose and palate. Interestingly, Glen Scotia crafted this whisky to resemble the style of whisky popular in Victorian Britain. I’ll admit, I’m not too familiar whiskies from that era, so I can’t comment on historical accuracy. However, I certainly can comment on where it counts: this is a darn good whisky, bottled at cask-strength, and non-chill filtered. Presentation-wise, Glen Scotia nailed this one.
Nose: I get a whiff of gentle smoke, coupled with sweet vanilla, and tangy lemon zest, and lots of toffee. There’s a bit of an alcohol prickle, but less than I expected, considering the high proof (51.5%). There’s also quite a bit of warm cinnamon and clove, mingled with milk chocolate.
With a bit of water, the alcohol dissipates immediately, as does the lemon. The smoke (probably evident due to the cask char, rather than peaty malt) becomes richer, mingling with more vanilla and milk chocolate, as well as some pipe tobacco and a bit of candied ginger.
Taste: The arrival is rich, viscous, and sweet! It’s packed with dark fruits like blackberry, plum, and ripe juicy cherries, and reminds me of a delicious fruit cobbler. The fruits break open toward the middle of the palate, blending bright, tangy-sweet fruit berry juice with a good dose of caramel and toffee. There’s also a pronounced, salty ribbon running through it, balancing out the sweetness and keeping it from getting cloying. It dries out a little toward the finish, with pickled lemon rind, more salt, and savory, earthy smoke and a hint of tobacco. The smoke lingers on the finish, which is long and bittersweet, bringing together some oak tannins, dark chocolate, and a bit of coffee.
A little water makes the arrival even more interesting. The dark fruits break up a little, joined by candied ginger, a bit more chocolate, and an added dose of vanilla. There are also more spices that emerge on the middle of the palate, particularly cinnamon and allspice. The saltiness is lessened, and the finish gets attenuated a bit, with less smoke and coffee. I think I like the finish a bit more neat, but a few drops of water does great things for the already tasty arrival and middle.
It’s a tough call (especially consider how easy this cask strength whisky is to sip neat!), but I think I have a slight preference for this with a little water. Or maybe I’ll just have a small glass each way – best of both worlds, right? 🙂
Oh, and I REALLY recommend a few bites of good chocolate with this dram. I went with a dark chocolate with sea salt and toffee, which really paralleled the flavors of this whisky quite nicely. In thinking about it, though, I’m tempted to try this one with some milk chocolate. Usually dark chocolate is my go-to whisky pairing, but I suspect milk chocolate might complement some of the sweeter notes in the dram. But what the heck, whatever you pair this dram with (even nothing at all), it’s going to be delicious.
Questions of the Day: Have you tried Glen Scotia? What’s your favorite whisk(e)y and chocolate pairing?
Disclosure: The Loch Lomond Group provided this whisky for my independent review free of charge, with no strings attached. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.