Arran turns 20 this year. That’s right. 20. I know we’re all used to distilleries touting claims of antecedence and longevity, but Arran is a relative upstart in the Scotch whisky world. The distillery was founded in 1993, released it’s first malt a couple years later and has since continued an evolution that has been both innovative and on an impressive upward trajectory.
Arran, it should be noted, is one of the heavyweights in the cask manipulation game. They’ve engaged in malt maturation in a wide range of barrel types, put together quirky and unusual vattings and found angles to market these oddball releases (think Devil’s Punchbowl, the Peacock Edition, Millennium Casks, Machrie Moor, Moscatels, Madeiras, Pomerols, etc). Sounds a little like Bruichladdich’s M.O., no? None of this tomfoolery works, however, without a good base spirit, and fortunately Arran is another distillery that has managed to find a sweet spot with their distillate. Good new make put into good barrels leads to great whisky. And that is exactly what is happening here.
It’s already been a fun ride watching Arran mature and evolve into a respectable malt, and quite frankly, they’re only getting better. The prospect of some really mature whisky from this distillery in another decade or so is enough to seriously whet the appetite if the character holds consistent. Arran’s most mature expression to date is this 17 year old, but now that we’re into 2015 we should be seeing an 18 year old crop up at any time. I know some whisky geeks that will be vulturously watching the clock tick down till the release of that one, just as lecherously as those out there who had their creepy Emma Watson birthday countdowns going. (Bad joke, I know)
And this one? Clean, elegant 17 year old malt. As the warehouses on the Isle of Arran fill up over the years, and the blenders have more casks to choose from, I can see this whisky getting better and better.
Nose: Some great fruity notes. A little bit of orange and milk chocolate. Some very soft vanilla cream notes. A faint banana note. Good granola. Some citrus…almost lemon meringue pie-ish. A touch of butterscotch. Nice spiciness. Great creamy nose.
Palate: Some cinnamon on the tip of the tongue. Apple and lemon. Berry coulis. Toasted marshmallow. More spices and licorice too. Some oak comes at the back, but not a strong influence.
Thoughts: One of, if not the best Arran I’ve tried to date.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt