Glen Scotia Campbeltown Malts Festival 2019 Rum Cask Finish (51.3%): This is the first time Glen Scotia is releasing Campbeltown Malts Festival special bottling worldwide. Besides being available during the Festival this expression got shipped to selected markets and actually to my surprise still available around. It is a 15yo non-chill filtered peated whisky matured in ex-bourbon hogsheads and then finished in ex Demerera rum casks for an additional 8 months. It must be a lucky coincidence that the same small town houses an independent bottler which happens to bottle Guyanese rum in regular basis. Wink, wink... It is bottled at cask strength with no caramel coloring.
Color: Light yellow gold color, oaked Chardonnay with thin, moving but pretty oily legs around the glass.
Nose: Fresh and crisp... Light peat, warm sea spray and wet beach sand. Crystallized ginger chunks, ginger molasses cookies and raw pecan nuts. After allowing it air a little peat takes the back seat and more and more rum aromas start to lead: Nutmeg, salted caramel and brittles. Milk chocolate and steamed milk. A few drops of water add green aromas like dandelion leaves, bitter greens and fresh oregano.
Palate: Incredibly viscous and velvety texture. It is thick, dusty and earthy. Dried and salted tropical fruits: Papaya, pineapple, coconut and guava. Dry clay, chalk and rock salt. The palate is less coastal but more earthy than the nose. Rooibos tea, avocado honey and pipe tobacco. It is salty and tart but you can still taste the sweetness of all the fruits under all. Beautifully balanced... Although adding water thins out the texture a little it adds all the saltiness we remember from the nose back to the mix. It does slow your pace a bit but some great olive brine, juniper and maybe even some dried fish notes appear.
Finish: Long with salt, dry oak, dried ginger and dried fruits.
Overall: This bottle is a testament to Glen Scotia's rise in recent years... It highlights the distillate brilliantly in spite of its age. I love to see a spirit still shining after 15 long years of maturation. The time spent in rum casks and the amount of peat used are just spot on. I know a lot of whisky enthusiasts who are extremely skeptical about rum finishes for all kind of right reasons and very hesitant to try new ones but this bottling might be the one for you folks. It carries all the textbook characteristics and heritage of its region but still innovative and also tad off the beaten path. Kudos to Iain McAlister again and again... I am talking about him and Glen Scotia constantly for the last two years to a point maybe being a little obnoxious but obviously things are changing quite a lot in Glen Scotia. Consistency of the distillate, continuous experimentation and innovation and much better cask management... You better keep an eye on them before it's too late. Meanwhile I cannot wait for our next visit to the distillery next May at the Campbeltown Malts Festival.