Scapa distillery information

The Scapa distillery can be found on the remote island of Orkney Mainland, in the very north of Scotland. It’s situated on the shore of Scapa Flow, near the town of Kirkwall. Due to its remote location, it’s manager is not normally on-site, but rather he or his colleague travel to Orkney once every two to three weeks. At the site itself, a crew of only three manage the entire distillation process.

The Scapa Distillery on the Island of Orkney

The Scapa Distillery on the Island of Orkney

The distillery was established in 1885 by MacFarlane and Townsend, who wanted to try and break with the tradition of distilling in Speyside, and ended up on Orkney. In 1919, it changed ownership to Scapa Distillery Company Limited, who in turn sold it to Hiram Walker and Sons (now part of current owners Pernod Ricard) in 1954. During reconstruction work somewhere in the 1950s, a so-called Lomond still (a cylindrical still with a vertically mounted water jacket above it. Within the still neck there are three perforated plates that can be cooled independently. This allows the distiller to produce different types of whisky. Lomond stills have only been used in a handfull of distilleries, including Loch Lomond, Miltonduff, Inverleven and Glenburgie. In 2010 Bruichladdich installed the still salvaged from the Inverleven distillery) was installed as a wash still.  It’s since been adjusted, with the plates removed (they tended to get cluttered with residue, and thus require extensive labour intensive cleaning), and a purifier added.

The distillery was mothballed in 1994, and closed in 2004. However, rather than tearing the building down, it was decided to renovate the distillery. Distillation resumed in November 2004, and included a switch from the traditional 12 years old to 14 years old. Another relaunch took place in November 2009, and all whisky produced in the distillery since is matured for 16 years.

The still room at the Scapa distillery on the Island of Orkney

The still room at the Scapa distillery on the Island of Orkney

Scapa Whisky

While in the past, Scapa was available in several editions, nowadays it produces a single product:

  • Scapa, 16 year old at 40% ABV.

Scapa chose not to use peated barley for their malting, which is rather remarkable for an Island whisky. The water source for the whisky is located over a kilometer away, and is fed from rainwater coming down from the hilltops, where it can pick up grassy, heatherish and flowery scents. This undoubtedly also adds to the honey hints that can be tasted in the whisky. It’s matured  first fill American oak  Bourbon casks.

Past editions included:

  • Scapa 12 year old
  • Scapa 14 year old

Distillery info:

Water sourceOrquil springs
Owned byPernod Ricard

Scapa Distillery
St Ola
Scotland KW15 1SE

+44 (0)1856-872071

Visitor centreNo

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun13,5001 (stainless steel with copper lid)
Washback13,500 litres8
Wash still13,500 litres1
Spirit Still9,000 litres1
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)1,000,000