Scalasaig Island Hopper launches its new whisky series

Colonsay Beverages, the company behind the international award-winning Wild Island Botanic Gin, has announced the first of its single cask and single distillery vintages series.

These will be released under its Scotch whisky label – The Scalasaig Island Hopper with an old and rare 1992 Jura cask and a 2013 Tobermory edition.

The launch was announced just as the brand saw its Blended Malt scoop a 93 point silver medal at the International Wines & Spirits Competition 2022.

Complete with the brand’s traditional Gaff Cutter-style Island Hopper vessel sailing towards the Paps of Jura at sunset, the 29 Years Old Jura Single Cask will be limited to less than 200 bottles while the 8 Years Old Tobermory Single Distillery Vintage, which shows the boat at anchor in the serene setting of Tobermory Bay, will be restricted to 1,450 bottles.

Director Keith Bonnington noted that the dual-launch, which follows up their widely
acclaimed Maiden Voyage Blended Malt, represented the first of many distillery releases, with the company having built up an inventory of mature whiskies from island-based producers.

He said: ‘The Island Hopper represents our journey to uncover hidden treasures from some of the best island and coastal Scotch whisky distilleries, shining a light on the varied styles that these producers are known for.’

The whisky itself has gone through a rigorous sampling process before bottling, says Bonnington, to ensure that the quality is the best it can be. There will be no set style, rather an exploration of all that the islands have to offer from heavily-peated to sweet and light but each one with its own maritime character.

Having just launched the brand in Switzerland and, from next month, Australia, the company is preparing further launches in 2022 and beyond, both for its Blended Malt and named distillery single casks and vintages.

The Single Distillery Vintages represent parcels of stock from the same fill-batch hand selected and made up of up to four casks, vatted to create a larger yielding out-turn of bottles.

Four casks (numbers 12058, 12059, 12060, 12061) all distilled and filled at Tobermory on the same day on the Isle of Mull in 2013 make up the first limited edition. The casks were selected and married together prior to being filled, into the same sherry hogsheads in which the brand’s inaugural Blended Malt was matured, for an 18 month finishing period.

Keith continued: ‘We launched our Blended Malt right at the start of the pandemic so we haven’t been able to get out to consumers anywhere near as much as we had planned.

‘That said, the response to the Scalasaig brand and the quality of the liquid has been really encouraging and we expect our Single Distillery Vintages and Single Cask releases to build even further interest.’

The brand’s eye-catching livery is a collaboration between Colonsay Beverages and Isle of Skye-based artist Peter McDermott which Bonnington hopes will become collectible as a series: ‘We start with what’s inside the bottle and then work closely with Peter to come up
with the aesthetic based on location and style. The Tobermory edition is non-peated, sweet and comparatively light so we have reflected that in the scene – our Island Hopper sailboat anchored in the serene fair weather setting of Tobermory bay.

‘The Jura single cask is loaded with that classically complex early-90s Jura style – lots of cooked fruits, cooking oils,
warming camphor and sea-salt character, something you might enjoy sipping as a sun-downer.

‘Given some of the more powerful, intensely flavoured casks lined up for bottling, you can expect less calm conditions for our boat on future labels.’

Scalasaig’s Island Hopper Jura 1992 is bottled at 48.1% volume with a recommended retail price (RRP) of £245.00 per bottle. The Tobermory 2013 edition is bottled at 46.5% volume and has a RRP of £67.00 per bottle. Both are non-chill-filtered and bottled at natural colour.

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