Whisky Advocate

Scapa turns 16

December 4th, 2008

scapa16.jpgFirst a 12 year old, then a 14 year old, Scapa is now being released as a 16 year old. A gap in production has forced its owners to release increasingly older stocks of whisky while its young stocks continue to mature.

A whisky producer has a few options when dealing with gaps in production like this. Chivas Brothers, the owners of Scapa, have chosen the most honest and direct route (which I applaud): increase the age statement.

They could have just been bottling Scapa as a 12 year old all these years. People don’t like change, and changing the age statement (and packaging) involves a certain degree of risk on Chivas’ part. That’s why Ardbeg 17 year old remained being sold as a 17 year old even after the actual age of the whisky inside the bottle was well into its 20s. A whisky producer is allowed to put a younger age statement on the label, just not an older age statement. (This practice also occurs in the American whiskey industry, by the way.)

Another option that Scapa will have in the future is to combine young Scapa with old Scapa, take the age statement off of the product, and give it a name instead. (Hey, we could have a contest on what to call it! Any suggestions?) This is occurring a lot in the industry now too. 

According to a write-up in Talking Retail, Scapa 16 yr. old is being released this month in several markets (UK, US, France, Scandinavia, and Travel Retail) for about $100.

12 Responses to “Scapa turns 16”

  1. AlanLaz says:

    Interesting; I would think distilleries would run at the opportunity to hike prices for the same stuff.

  2. John Hansell says:

    Hike prices, yes. But it’s a new whisky, and there’s always a risk of people saying things like: “It’s not as good as the 12 year old was and it cost twice the money.”

    Ardbeg never changed the age statement for the 17 (even though the whisky in the bottle was older) and I don’t remember anyone complaining that it wasn’t the same whisky.

  3. Sam S. says:

    I haven’t yet had a chance to try Scapa.
    Highland Park is probably my current favorite and since the distillaries are very close, I’m interested to see how similar/different they are.

  4. John Hansell says:

    I enjoy both, and I know many who do (although HP has a bigger following). The 16 is new, so I can’t comment yet, but I have enjoyed its predecessors, the 12 and 14 yr. old.

  5. Dear John,
    Very exciting news – any idea of what the ABV will be? Hopefully 46%?


  6. John Hansell says:

    WM: I have a call out and will get you the ABV shortly.

  7. Patrick says:

    I tried very recently their new 16 YO and I was positively surprised by it. I enjoyed better than the former 14 YO, however, I am still fond of the old 12 YO. Between the old 12 YO and the 16 YO, the difference is quite huge. So why not bottling Scapa both at 12 and 16 YO?
    My main comment concerning the new 16 YO is the price, twice as much as the 14 YO, and the ABV: 40%. They should have bottled it at least at 43% if not 46%.

  8. John Hansell says:

    Here’s the information I received from the U.S. Brand Director for all the Chivas Brother’s whiskies:

    “We’re excited about Scapa 16YO hitting the US. Thanks for posting on your site – looks like there is already interest. Product should be rolling into the stores around February. The ABV will be the same as 14YO – 40%. BTW, the US price will be in the $70-$80 range.”

    I should be getting a review sample within the next week or two and will offer my thoughts at that time after I taste it.

  9. *Hey, we could have a contest on what to call it! Any suggestions?*

    Well, duh: Scapa Flow.

  10. John Hansell says:

    Yes, “duh!”. That a good (and obvious) one.

  11. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    Hi there,

    I would not dream of spoiling the fun but …

    Read this carefully


    “Although overall Pernod Ricard sales soared 13% between July and September, Chivas executives have admitted they expect to struggle in the UK market next year as the consumer slowdown takes hold of the whisky market.
    However, they believe the premium end of the market will hold up better as wealthy drinkers continue to indulge.”

    That explains this from another source:

    “The new expression will initially be available in the UK, Scandinavia, France, the US and Travel Retail with a price point of £50 (circa €60, US$70-80).”

    That is an increase of about 32.-€ to the 14 yo!!!! That same cost the same as the 12yo did when it came out and had a new tube as well.

    Scapa more closed than working and close to ectinction in 2004 under the old owner has mutated to a premium malt in the heads of Pernod Ricard executives. And you are to pay for that.

    Here we have a bitter connection to other topics you brought up recently, John.

    I think I shut up before I post some things I might regret later – or not.

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