Glen Scotia unveils ‘The Mermaid’ as part of its new Icons of Campbeltown series which will explore the fascinating tales of the Wee Toon’s historical market cross.
Glen Scotia has launched the first in a new five-part limited-edition annual series ‘The Icons of Campbeltown’, a celebration of the Campbeltown community and inspired by the iconic Campbeltown market cross, a historic meeting point for celebration and storytelling.
Each release will be based on icons which were intricately carved by unknown hands into the face of the medieval cross once found in the centre of the town, which dates from the 14th century. Saints, beasts, heroes and their foes are said to vividly capture tales of Campbeltown’s prevailing spirit, creativity, and history – much like the Glen Scotia story.
The first release, The Mermaid, is a 12 Year Old unpeated single malt (54.1% ABV, £90). Aged in ex-bourbon barrels, the liquid was then transferred into Palo Cortado finishing casks for a further eight months.
The result is a whisky with a sweet and nutty character interwoven with subtle maritime nuances, bracing Atlantic Sea breeze notes on the nose, and a signature Glen Scotia saltiness on the palate. This new limited edition has been released at cask strength and its natural colour without chill filtration.
Diving into Campbeltown’s mythical past, the team at Glen Scotia pieced together historical information which detailed local sightings of mermaids along the coast, before crafting a whisky whose flavour profile would pay homage to this maritime myth.
While they found various sightings of sea maidens reported around Campbeltown’s coves and beaches throughout history, one sighting in particular was eerily detailed and substantiated by various community members. On a cold October night in 1811, when distilling in town was growing to new heights, a young townsman John McIsaac recalled a two-hour encounter with a half-human, half-amphibious being, which remains one of the most recounted and least contested mermaid sightings on record.
Glen Scotia’s latest release reawakens the legendary story with Master Blender, Michael Henry, along with the Glen Scotia team carefully crafting a liquid with characteristics which reflect the marine setting of the distillery and this first icon.
Beautifully presented in a bespoke box, Glen Scotia has collaborated with internationally renowned illustrator and artist, Joel Holtzman, the master behind several fantastical characters created for the likes of LucasFilm, Marvel and Macmillian Publishing, to create a series of stunning new pack design for the Icons collection.
In hues of turquoise and green, and taking inspiration from the original tale, Joel’s first enchanting illustration vividly portrays McIsaac’s mermaid with its hair and fan-like tail moving rhythmically in the wind.
Custodians can witness the mermaid scene reimagined through a new on-pack experience, accessed through a QR code, which links to an animation and story book of the tale of the mermaid in Campbeltown.
Iain McAlister, Distillery Manager and Master Distiller at Glen Scotia, said:“The Mermaid is a wonderful release that serves as a reminder of the sea and tropical climate that shape our award-winning whisky. Our local community has played a huge role in the survival and re-emergence of whisky-making in Campbeltown, and the market cross remains an important historic symbol of that enduring spirit. We’re all proud to be able to release a series of single malt whiskies that pays homage to those that have supported us on the journey. Equally our Glen Scotia community has grown beyond Scotland to fans all over the world, and I’m excited to see what they make of this adventurous unpeated limited edition, as well as to see what future releases bring.”
Senior Global Brand Manager, Nick Bradley, added: “Given the continuing global success of Glen Scotia, we wanted to take the opportunity to share more stories about what makes our home, and Scotland’s fifth whisky-making region, so special. Our new Icons of Campbeltown series is the ideal creative medium to do this. We were privileged to work with whisky icon, Charlie MacLean to uncover the stories of the market cross, digging into his library and own personal records, and then to see Joel Holzman bring this first carving to life with his own unique style of art.
“With a truly interesting story to tell, it was important to the distillery and blending teams that we crafted a whisky to match. Using ex-bourbon and Palo Cortado casks gives us a floral and delicate whisky with evident coastal notes. The use of the Palo Cortado finishing casks, a rare selection for Glen Scotia, nods to the rare but fascinating mermaid sightings. This is a brilliant example of where distilling and blending creativity meets storytelling.”
The Mermaid is now available from the Glen Scotia website and select specialist retailers in the UK, Europe, USA, SA, Middle East, Singapore, Australia, China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Global Travel Retail.
Information on the next Icons of Campbeltown release will be available in 2024.
Tasting notes from Charles MacLean
- Nose: A rich and mellow nose, slightly nose-drying with very little prickle. The top notes are maritime (salt crystals, boat varnish, edible seaweed). Beneath these is a thick, fruity note (tarte tatin, glazed French apple tart; a suggestion of Dundee Seville marmalade). Becoming tablet toffee as it develops. Aromas subdued but unchanged by a little water.
- Palate: At natural strength it has a creamy texture, with an overall lightly sweet, centre palate, taste, and a pinch of salt in mid-palate. At slightly reduced strength, the taste is more salty but otherwise unchanged.
- Finish: Long and warming at natural strength, with a savoury aftertaste. A little water introduces a spicy note to the finish.