The second most northerly distillery in Scotland is Scapa, situated on the remote Island of Orkney. It was established in 1885 by Robert MacFarlane and Joseph Townsend. The Scapa whisky story draws heavily on the elements as Orkney is a an island which sees the extremes of weather, indeed one of the first things people notice about Orkney is the lack of trees due to the heavy winds.
Scapa Distillery adheres to the old ways with manual production. Unusually for a Island distillery no peat is used in the production process. Large stocks of barley are held onsite in order to ensure production is not interrupted by the weather. The distillery is small and only has a wash still and spirit still. The wash still is a Lomond one, a design rarely seen now. The warehouses are very close to the seas.
The distillery watches over Scapa Flow, a natural harbour has a long maritime history. The British Home Fleet were based here in both world wars and in 1919 the German navy scuttled it’s ships in Scapa Flow. Around 8 miles away is the Italian Chapel which was built by Italian prisoners of war in WWII.
The distillery produces a variety of whisky expressions. It has its signature malt which is aged in oak Bourbon casks and then finished the single malt in peated casks. The result is a malt with a slight smoky taste.
Scapa Distillery Tours & Tastings
Scapa Distillery opened its visitor centre in 2015 and offers a wide range of whisky tours and whisky tasting experiences. The Scapa Tour is a 45 minute introduction to the distillation process ending with a tasting of two malts. Another option is the MacFarlane & Townsend Tour which lasts around 2 hours. This is a more detailed tour which finishes with a tasting including selections from the Distillery Reserve Collection and a dram from a cask.
Scapa Distillery is around 2 miles from Highland Park and many visitors take a tour or whisky tasting at both. They are situated in Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands. Orkney is a collection of 70 islands with a long history. The main tourist attractions include the Churchill Barriers, Italian Chapel, St Magnus Cathedral and the ancient sites of Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar (standing stones).