Sea basin, Orkney Islands, Scotland. Located off of Scotland's northern tip, the basin is about 15 mi (24 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) wide. Its extensive sheltered waters served as a major British naval base during World Wars I and II. The Germans scuttled their fleet there after World War I. The base was fortified in World War II following German attacks and the sinking of the battleship Royal Oak in 1939. The base closed in 1956.
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The distillery has one wash still and one spirit still producing a single malt (unblended) whisky. It is an especially honey flavoured whisky, and less peaty than most Island Whiskies. This is because, though the water at the source is peaty, it gets transported to the distillery through pipelines to avoid more contact with the peat. Furthermore, the malt is not dried over peat smoke.
The distillery, founded in 1885 by Macfarlane & Townsend, was during the 1950s acquired by Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd (now part of Allied Distillers) and rebuilt. In 1994 it was mothballed, and faced definitive closure in 2004. During that period, the most commonly available edition was the Scapa 12 years old, which was and still is a most distinctive island whisky for its subtle heathery honey plus sea taste. Still, it was decided to rebuild/restore the distillery, and the first new spirit in 10 years flowed in November 2004. Because of the time-gap, it was decided to stop the 12 years and introduce the 14 years, which is quite different from its predecessor, even though the basic characteristics are intact.
The distillery fails to be the northernmost in Scotland by only half a mile; that title is held by the Highland Park Distillery.