Two years ago, I was still completely “alone” in my then simple appreciation of whisky. I had only a dozen of bottles (yes, only one dozen), I was sharing a glass with friends that would come at my home but didn’t know about exchanging samples, I was a complete newbie, by myself in this big whisky world.
Then I began to read more about whisky, about Japanese whisky I liked a lot, with a fondness for Yoichi, about Scotch, about whisky from all over the world. I went to Japan for the second time last year, and brought back as much as I could. Not the bottles I was looking for (age-stated whiskies from Nikka or Suntory), but brought back as much as I could anyway.
More friends, less drama
Then around the last part of 2018, I began to discover that there was a huge whisky community on Twitter. And I began to discuss more and more with some people. A lot more. And they opened my world. I discovered that you could swap samples, so that way you could taste a lot of more different whiskies without having to sell your kidneys or your kids to afford all the bottles. Then I went to Scotland with friends to celebrate my 40th birthday, and met some of the people I was talking to on Twitter. I made new friends, and was completely overwhelmed by how fantastic people in the whisky industry were, be they working for a distillery, a liquor shop or any other whisky related company. I also met people back here in France, with that same drive for sharing whisky. One made me taste my first Hanyu, Port Ellen or even Karuizawa. Another one, I’m creating a whisky club with him, so that we can share whisky with more people, and help them discover how great this spirit is, and that it’s even better when shared.
A month ago, I unfortunately had a car accident, with my young kids in the car with me, and broke my car. Though the most important thing was that my kids and I were absolutely uninjured, I was quite down as I wasn’t planning to buy a new car at that period, that it meant I should renounce going back to Scotland quickly before Brexit, and many other things made me be a bit down. Then I received a package I wasn’t expecting, with no idea about the content, and when I opened it, big was my surprise when I discovered a bottle of Glen Scotia Victoriana and a card from five friends, one of them being my co-author on this blog, only one another I had the chance to meet in real, the last three being only, for now, “Twitter friends.” I was down, and those five people had the kindness of wanting to lift my spirits (pun intended from their part), though three of them didn’t meet me in real yet.
It’s not whisky until it’s shared (Aqvavitae)
That’s what is really great with whisky. It’s not just a drink, and it’s not something you only drink by yourself. Whisky is meant to be shared, and it helps you make friends with people that love whisky too. And I’ve shared whisky with these five people, though for some of them for now only by swapping samples, but we’ve shared whisky anyway (and with Julien we shared quite a lot of whisky!) And now that’s what I am also doing: sharing my whisky with people I quite often didn’t even meet, but who I know are passionate about whisky.
But enough dilly-dally, let’s review this Glen Scotia!
Glen Scotia Victoriana
This whisky has been matured in ex-bourbon casks before being finished in deep charred oak casks. Initial batches were bottled at 51.5%, while this 2019 batch is really bottled at cask strength, at 54.2% ABV. It is unchilled-filtered and of natural colour. It seems to be sold out on most shops, however you may be able to order it from the german website Scoma for about 60€ plus shipping.
The colour is deep gold (Sercial Madeira according to the Lovibond series 52 scale)
Vanilla is immediately strongly preset, revealing the ex-bourbon maturation. It is joined with pepper and orange marmalade on a toast, then charred wood, caramel and dark berries. The nose is really sweet with absolutely no tingling from the alcohol. Water reduction tones down the vanilla a bit while bringing forward the oak.
Sweet at first on caramel with an oily and mouth-coating arrival, the spices kick in after a couple seconds, mostly on pepper, and dark roast coffee. The charred wood is clearly discernible, with burnt wood smoke and oak bitterness but in a subtle delivery. The caramel becomes salty on the back palate and is joined by citrus peels. Water sweetens the arrival and reinforce the wood spices, making the charred wood more prominent.
The finish is long on salted caramel, burnt wood spices and dark chocolate.
Putting aside the special meaning this whisky has for me, this is a solid dram. I’ve read not overly enthusiastic reviews of the initial batches of this Glen Scotia, but this cask strength 2019 batch is a pretty solid dram for a very reasonable price. It’s full of flavour and easy to sip (I had to pour some more twice while writing this post!) And in my personal context, a great dram, with strong notes of friendship.
Heartfelt thanks to the 5 friends who gifted me this bottle, and cheers to the other friends I talked about in this post, they’ll recognize themselves.