Not only have there been requests to write up a few Arran malts, but there is an absolutely rabid following for the stuff around here. Part of that loyal fanboy and fangirl-ism, I honestly believe, can be laid at the feet of Kensington Wine Market here in Calgary. (And yes…I work at KWM. But you knew that, aye?) Twelve bespoke casks of Arran have been brought into the store over the past few years. Twelve. And having sold through all but the last handful of our most recent acquisitions, I think we can safely say that, at the very least, we’ve helped cultivate the adoration.
The icing on the cake is that Arran is a ridiculously approachable malt; complex enough that geeks still love it, but sweet and easy-going enough so that even those with little experience can find it a decent gateway dram. The key, though, is that inherent sweetness that defines the distillery character. So, where does it come from? Well…
Here’s what we know (based on info from Scotchwhisky.com): decently lengthy fermentation time (~65 hrs, shell and tube condensers to maximize copper contact; tall stills with long lyne arms (ditto on the copper contact); Kerry M yeast (slightly longer for the yeast to get moving, typically resulting in a more fruit-driven distillate) and a solid wood program that focuses primarily (though not exclusively) on sweet jammy sherry butts and clean active ex-bourbon casks. The malts are nabbing really robust cask influence at relatively youthful ages, without then having to be offered up too young. A nice balancing act, really.
So, what comes out the other end is a sweet, syrupy and ester-driven pile of loveliness. I can’t always drink such a sweet style, but man…what a well-composed spirit. Hard to argue that.
I’ll be heading for the distillery in a matter of weeks. Hopefully I can confirm a few details then. More to come…
Nose: This one even noses sweet. Bucketloads of fruit. Sliced apple and berries drizzled in lemon juice. Decent oak structure, without being tannic. Some sherry in here too? The suggestion of an unlit cigar sitting behind a vase of week old flowers (you’ve lost the plot, ATW!). Pineapple and mandarin. Lemon meringue pie, with toasted meringue. Plantains.
Palate: Juicy arrival. Then big oak. Then an explosion of fruity sweetness. Apple and orange with a squeeze of grapefruit. Dried papaya slices. Mashed banana. Pineapple flan (flan de pina). A decent amount of citrus again. Danish pastries. Orange ju-jubes.
Finish: Clean and dominated by fruit skins. Lemon popsicle, especially the stick afterwards.
Thoughts: Nice balance here, if a wee bit sweet for my tastes. I do like the fruits here, edging into tropical territory.