Scapa 30 Years Old 1988 Connoisseurs Choice

Scapa 30 Years Old 1988 Connoisseurs Choice (53.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Refill Bourbon Barrel #10585, 148 Bottles, 2018)

  • ABV: 53.8%
  • Age: 30 Years Old
  • Bottling: Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice
  • Category: Island single malt scotch whisky
  • Cost: £400
  • Origin: Scapa distillery
  • Vintage: 1988


What they say

With approximately 70 remote islands making up the Orkneys and a highly different climate and terroir to the other coastal islands around Scotland’s coastline, it’s no surprise that the whisky produced there is going to be unique.

Alongside Orkney’s other distillery, Highland Park, Scapa, founded in 1885, produces a distinctly light and characterful spirit, thanks to the installation of its unusual Lomond still. Scapa has long been described as a hugely underrated malt and there are some absolute gems to discover.

Scapa single malt has a fresh fruitiness, with a distinct, sweet, buttery undertone making it a very approachable malt indeed. It is also one of the most intriguing distilleries to visit: The view from the stillhouse across Scapa Flow is one of the finest in Scotland.

This 30 year old Scapa, distilled in 1988 and aged in second fill bourbon casks, was bottled by Gordon & MacPhail in the Connoisseur Choice Upper range, at its natural cask strength of 53.8% ABV. This single malt concentrates exotic (lychee, citrus) and spicy notes (peppermint, cinnamon).

Profile: Exotic, spicy. Litchi, citrus, vanilla bourbon, peppermint, cinnamon.

What I say

For me Scapa seems to be another elusive malt, mostly as I have little enough occasion to chase this one. Producer of a single standard expression 14 year old for many a year until its replacement with the 16 year old expression in 2008. There has been a recent gamut of of NAS Scapa expressions none of which I have endeavoured to sample! This monster of an expression by Gordon & MacPhail has me way out of my comfort zone or depth then.

Distilled in 1988 and matured for over 30 years in a refill bourbon barrel by Gordon & MacPhail, bottled as 18/069 as part of the Cask Strength Connoisseurs Choice rebranded range in 2018.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Deep amber gold (10/20), numerous fine tears and thin legs.
  • Nose: Sweet and fruity, fragrant with pkenty of cereals, apples, wood polish, fresh citrus, tropical fruits, pineapple juice, mango, papaya.
  • Taste: Bursting with tropical fruits on the palate, full bodied and syrupy in texture, with a sharpness of citrus fruit and pineapple, a touch of spices including white pepper builds to mustard seed, flinty and mineralic.
  • Finish: Long, sweet and spiced, aniseed and oak wood.


Sweet, complex, mineralic and spiced. Surely full of Scapa character whatever that may be? This has been well-aged in a refill cask but still retains some rather unusual and unique flavours.

Score 89/100

Don’t take my word for it:

Bloggers submit link to your review

Categories: Island, Scapa

Tagged as: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.