On Thursday this week the ‘other’ distillery on the island – Scapa- opened to the public for the first time in 130 years. It has a new visitor centre so I felt obliged to pop in and take a look. We arrived a bit late in the day for a tour, so that will have to wait. But we had a lovely chat to the young girl at the visitor centre and learnt that there will be a lot more items to come as they are very much ‘finding their way’ which after a lapse of 130 years, this is understandable.
I don’t think it is unfair of me to say that the visitor centre is not on a par with ‘the other lot’ - Highland Park. But the tour should be very interesting as the distillery is still very much run manually rather than computer driven like a lot of their competitors. They don’t do their own malting but very few (if any) do nowadays. The Scapa 16 year old is their main product and apart from the odd single cask the other distillations are a 14 and a 25 year old. On the island most whisky drinkers seem to be split between Highland Park, or Scapa as being the best, currently I prefer 18 year old Highland Park but I am very willing to continue with the testing procedures!
I shall be reporting back after my tour which they run every hour on the half hour most days.
There was once a third distillery on the island, this was called the ‘Old Orkney Distillery’
This was based near us in Stromness and previously was called the Man O'Hoy distillery. It was founded 1817 by John Crookshanks. It went into a silent period from the mid 1860's to 1878 when it was bought and restored by the MacPherson brothers. Who renamed the distillery to Man O'Hoy and its whisky to Old Orkney. Circa 1905 is was acquired by J & J McConnell Ltd. who operated it through the bad years of the 20's but had to give it up 1928. The distillery became completely demolished in 1940 without traces. The site is now occupied by housing. With its very small 2 Pot stills and 4/2.200 gallons washbacks it had an annual production of 7.000 gallons. Water for process was drawn from May Burn. Now if one could find a bottle of that……..