Nuckelavee Takes Gold at IWSC


We weren’t allowed into the IWSC’s protected judging chambers, but we imagine it looked a fair bit like this. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

It makes us almost burst with pride to announce that our Scottish Folklore Series 4th release: Nuckelavee has taken home the highest award from the IWSC judging panel this year. This is extra impressive, since the IWSC have upped their standards – only spirits that score 95/100 points or higher are entitled to a gold award.

The International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) is one of the most highly reputed judging panels of quality in alcoholic drinks. They take their role very seriously, with purpose-built climate controlled facilities for housing the drinks they are judging, and a series of blind tasting events that take place over the course of six months every year.

They are simultaneously the most trustworthy arbiters of excellence in the world’s whiskies, and the best almost continuous party in London. 

To say that our whisky has gained high honours is confirming what our loyal Folklore fans already know, of course. The Nuckelavee 31yo Highland Park, matured in a hogshead of ex-Rivesaltes fortified French wine, sold out long before this award was given, implying that people had already intuited the quality of the whisky in this bottle. We certainly knew we had found a good thing when we came across this cask. No way to tamp this down: we’re just plain bragging now.

[SFS4: Nuckelavee]


Vital Statistics

Though Nuckelavee is dark and sinister, the Orkney islands from where it comes are known for their blue and green colour scheme.

Here’s the lowdown on this bottle – unusually dark, unusual cask finish and a packing a brooding intensity of flavour.

  • Age: 31 Years
  • Cask Type: Refill Sherry Cask. Finished in ex-Rivesaltes fortified French wine hogshead
  • Distilled At: Highland Park
  • Distillation Date: June 22, 1988
  • Bottling Date: January 8, 2020
  • Bottle Size: 70cl
  • ABV: 45.80%

Nose: The first whiff is perfumed and woody, like camphor and sandalwood. The almondy essence of Amaretto follows, but drier. As you get closer, however, sweeter notes of dried prunes and freeze-dried strawberries lurk.

Taste: It leads with sweetness: a thick layer of marzipan icing and raspberry jam, slowly peeled away from a fruitcake. A hint of smoke rolls in, like a roast dinner charring in another room. Then the sweetness changes, becoming more savoury like Mexican candies. Tamarind candy with a soft dusting of salt and chilli powder, followed by a cinnamon red-hot.

Finish: The finish is, unsurprisingly, long. Depending on where you focus your attention you may find sweetness, savour, smoke, spice or a soupcon of sea salt. Enjoy it: it’ll be different after the next sip.


Multi-Award Winning

Our Folklore series is no stranger to awards *Pauses to brush a little lint from shoulder*. SFS 2 Selkie (21yo Arran, Single Sherry Cask) received a gold award from The Spirits’ Business ‘Scotch Whisky Masters’, and SFS 3 Cailleach Beira (19yo Laphroaig, French Wine Finish)  got… ooh, now this stings a little… a silver medal from the IWSC with 94 points. It’d be lovely to have a clean sweep of golds, but perhaps missing out by one point is good for keeping us humble – motivating us to keep searching for those legendary cream-of-the-crop whiskies to put into our bottles.

The Scottish Folklore Series complete lineup (to date 07.2021)


Nuckelavee comes from beneath the sea… always lurking beneath the water.

Elusive and Rare Creatures

The Nuckelavee spent little time on our shelves, following a trend across this whole series: Out of the five expressions we have released so far, four have sold out completely, and may be found by eagle-eyed malt enthusiasts on the secondary market. Only a few bottles of the Cailleach Beira: Laphroaig 19yo linger, though we don’t expect them to be there for long after this good news. 

Unlimited thanks, once again, to fans of the Folklore series. We hope these special bottles give you as much pleasure as they give us. See the whole collection and read more about the Folklore stories behind the whiskies here: 

[Cask 88: Independent Bottling Collections]

If you’re more of a scholar of modern history, the tussles that come from the rise of new ventures, and how Scotland joined the industrial revolution in the 19th century, check out our other beloved series of bottlings – The Scotch Express!


One More to Go…

There is only one bottle left in the Scottish Folklore Series, and as ever, we will remain enigmatically quiet on the identity of the whisky and the character from Folklore it embodies. 

Hannah Fleetwood enthusiastically reprised her role as the series’ artist, and has worked on an image that immediately feels right at home among its peers. Hannah’s contemporary reimaginings of the unusual figures from Scottish Folklore have been excellent partners to the whiskies – lending a vibrant intensity to the artwork outside the bottle to match the intensity of the whiskies within. SFS 6 will be no exception, and that’s all you’re getting out of us for now.

We can say just this: it’s going to be a doozy!

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