Arran, in my humble opinion, is a distillery just coming of age. Generally speaking, the usual coming of age for any malt would be about 10-12 years, but that doesn’t really seem like a proper state of maturity, if you ask me. Kind of like handing out driver’s permits to preteens. The true test of a whisky is what it does when it is old enough to vote, hit the bar and f*ck. Crude, I know, but no less true for it. In my tastes anyway.
Just this past year Arran released its first 16 year old whisky. I’ve heard good things about it, but have yet to try it myself. The only reason I bring this up is to raise the point that perhaps this particular whisky we’re about to chat about would actually succeed at a similar age. As it is…well…not so much.
Machrie Moor is kinda like the proverbial ‘fat guy in a little coat’. The peat just doesn’t seem to be a good fit for the spirit itself. Here we have Arran peated to about 14ppm. Should be enough to provide a bit of a whomp (and it does), but not enough to overpower the underlying structure (hmmm…not so sure about that). What I can be sure of though, is that this whisky is just not working.
Arran malts seem to be a bit of a fan favorite of late, but the distillery still hasn’t released a whisky that has ticked all the boxes for me as yet. I’ve tried a bunch of their more novel finished releases, as well as the Peacock and Devil’s Punchbowl et al, but perhaps it’s the purist in me that longs to taste this malt in a pure and mature iteration. Time to hunt that 16 year old, I think. Until then…I think this is a bottle that will be finished by friends. Not really my thing.
Nose: Young, feisty and citric. Almost juniper-like. Grassy. Quite new make-ish (read: far too young). Vanilla. Cleaning product of some sort. Smoked apple and fresh wood. Sweet earthy peat. Coconut lotion. Very ‘green’…almost pine-like. Far too sharp and aggressive.
Palate: Peat and nutty notes. Ash and smoke. Quite tart. Dry pastry dough. Some fishy notes. o be honest…not a good drink. Still seesawing, and definitely not balanced as yet.
Thoughts: Served up far too young. The nose borders on ‘ok’, but the palate is failing grades. Splitting hairs maybe but, while I won’t say this is a bad whisky, I will say it’s not a very good one.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
I really did wonder about this one and, as you know, I love to see anyone kick the living **** (discretion) out of any whisky just on principle, for any reason whatsoever (because I hate whisky and those who make it). I do kind of wonder about the “whomp” at 14(?) ppm. Really? What’s Bowmore 12? Anyway, I do concur with the description of the overall Arran style, sorta the poorman’s Hazelburn; way too aggressive and biting for all the hype, much of which has moved on to Kilchoman, the “next big thing” (Great White Hope of whisky). Considering the overall quality of the Robbie Burns blend compared to its 10 single malt, this is a distillery that yet to come into its own. In the current climate, I’d be foolish to suggest that it COULD be a matter of age maturation, but I leave that to the ATW audience to consider.
P.S. – at 72/100, you’ve left little doubt as to whether this is a bad whisky; it’s 0.5 above Black Grouse, and you slammed that ‘til it bounced (and not without reason).
Happy New Year, amigo.
The ‘whomp’ isn’t to suggest this is a peat monster, but there is substantial impact against a whisky you quite rightly refer to as ‘poorman’s Hazelburn’. I find Arran similarly delicate (albeit miles apart in terms of profile). A whisky as youthfully susceptible to influence as this one absorbs a peat hit like I would a MIke Tyson uppercut. Not so well.
Have a few more stunners to post up soon, then I’d like to try knocking out some reviews of a few more ‘financially approachable’ malts in the coming days.
I did not like the Macrie Moor a few years ago (maybe the second edition), but hey, the new cask strength version is veeery nice! Full of cacao, honey and soft peat. Really enjoyable.
Will see if I can get my hands on some. Thanks for the ‘heads up’.