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Issue 59 - The Orcadian phoenix

Whisky Magazine Issue 59
October 2006


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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The Orcadian phoenix

The Scapa Distillery is producing spirit regularly again after a two year renovation programme. Dominic Roskrow reports

It's the stillroom at Scapa that you remember most, and in particular the large window at one end of it, and the still at its heart.

Chalk and cheese really; the window providing vantage across the Flow, and bringing much needed respite to the intensity of the isolated and library-like room; the still angular and rigid, powerful and proud, and intimidating, too. But together they combine to make Scapa's stillroom a character all its own.

In two years this room has travelled from the depths of despair to the heights of glory.

But its atmosphere has remained unchanged – and that's down to the window and the still.

Horizontal rain was blowing in squalls the first time I was here, aggressively mocking the heat wave that the rest of Britain was experiencing. We had stumbled across piles of brick and displaced roofing, and made our way through corridors and stairwells smelling of damp and decay, the gloomy silence broken only by our footsteps and the odd bird that had taken residence in the gloom.

Even then, though, the stillroom impressed.

The window, grimy and neglected, revealed nothing more than a morass, where brown sky met brown sea. The still, covered in bird dirt, its gleaming copper reduced to stained bronzes and sludge greens, stood brooding and sullen.

But I felt it, and so did my companions from Allied; this room was proof the distillery was not dead, merely sleeping, and so it has proved.

A lot of water has passed through Scapa Flow since then. Allied is no m...

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