Scapa Skiren

Scapa Skiren

The Orkney Islands and its inhabitants pride themselves on being separate, but not detached. Neither truly Scottish nor Scandinavian, they crown the British Isles yet retain an identity quite untouched by either. Despite its cultural immunity to its faster moving neighbours, Orkney has often been historically pivotal and its ancient lore, hugely influential.



Less a crown of golden sovereignty than a helm born of a rock far older than gold and the cross, the place has been populated for more 8,500 years. A Neolithic cradle, Orkney’s Ring of Brodgar is 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and is our northern-most stone circle. Sat inexorably between Lochs of Stenness and Harray, the stones are a defiant testament to the sun and moon their craftsmen worshipped.

The place is unchanging and ancient and harkens back to a simpler time, purely dictated by the elements and the lay of the land. To this day, the elements feature as prominent thematic prompts. It is no exaggeration to say that one can experience all four seasons in a single afternoon. The gales and the horizontal rain make the sunshine all the sweeter on this meteorological merry-go-round and the heady cliffs of Skara Brae can go from serene to tempestuous in a matter of moments.


This constant flux in climate brings the landmarks to life – Skara Brae, Yesnaby, The Old Man of Hoy – and you can’t help but feel as if you’re in the scene of some Nordic saga.


The Orcadian people are refreshingly open and completely without pretence. Their sense of identity and community is idyllic. You’ll often be able to witness the flow of jokes and anecdotes (started by one individual and then morphed by the next) throughout the island, it being so tight-knit, and crime is non-existent.

So, if the weather be our mood-setter, the colourful inhabitants be our supporting cast and any of these geographical marvels available as a stage, how will our tale unfold?

Allow me to take you to the second largest natural harbour in the world – Scapa Flow. Our stage is one of Britain’s most historic stretches of water and has played host to many a monumental scene and has most recently inspired a tipple so mightily infused with its surroundings it’s simply uncanny – Scapa Skiren.

Crafted by five dedicated artisans at the manually operated Scapa distillery, Scapa Skiren’s smooth taste embodies the unexpected contrasts of the Orkney Islands, setting it apart from traditional Island Malts. A unique barrel-shaped Lomond wash still – the only remaining working Lomond in the Scotch whisky industry – is used for distillation, resulting in a richer and fruiter honeyed spirit.



Scapa Skiren gets its name from the Old Norse for glittering bright skies and lights up the senses with its delicate scented floral flavours as well as fresh pear, sweet and fruity pineapple notes on the nose. The whiskey’s scent is bizarrely divisive. Some swear by the pineapple aroma, while others insist the presence of an overriding scent of leather – particularly the school satchels of their youth.

Master Distiller, Brian MacAulay said of the oddment:

“It’s a marvel! There is just no explanation for it, nor are those two scents related in any way.” – Brian MacAulay


Such is the alchemy of whiskey and the ungraspable essence of its production.

The man is in the enviable position of doing something he truly loves for a living, in a place that he treasures, with colleagues he values as an extended family – and his zest rubs off in waves.

The heritage of Scapa’s Skiren is a marvellous thing. Its namesake was shaped by the rocks and the rain and the distillery housed amidst the Flow draws breath from these magical isles. What we’re left with is a whiskey imbued with a history matched only by its geography. Here’s to Scapa Flow.

Scapa Skiren will be available from mid-September 2015 at The Whisky Shop London. For more information and to locate your nearest stockist visit ~

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