Price: circa £37.99
Strength: 50% vol
Additional: matured in oak casks for 8 years this was finished in Bordeaux sweet wine casks for a further period of 9 months.
Nose: very fresh and lively. A fruit salad of aromas with floral notes. Strawberries, lemon rind and honey.
Taste: not as rich as the nose suggested. More honey and vanilla with lots of sweet characteristics; pancakes and golden syrup.
Arran UK Exclusive Single Bourbon cask
Price: £71.99 (now sold out)
Strength: 55.3% vol
Age: 13 year old
Additional: cask 99/103
Colour: olive oil
Nose: dessert wine and more sweetness emphasis with fruit pastilles, barley sugar and honey. A little twist in the characteristics with fresh sweetcorn, uncooked pastry (buttery note) and lemon sponge. Rounded off with a suggestion of walking through a field of daffodils.
Taste: more lemon, rape seed oil, rolled oats and fresh ginger.
Arran 1st White Stag bottling
Price: to be released in June exclusively for members
Age: 18 years old
Strength: 54.2% vol
Additional: single cask bottling 214 bottles, sherry hogshead
Colour: sun-kissed sand
Nose: the homely, welcoming aroma of digestive biscuits followed by barley drops and Birds Eye vanilla custard. More honey and fennel rounds off a provocative nose.
Taste: a burst of freshness and white pepper, a little ash as well (most surprising) and it does respond well to water, as it is a little fiery at first. With water more cloves appear suggestive of the cask origins and spicy notes such as cinnamon.
Arran 18 year old
Strength: 46% vol
Additional: matured in ex-sherry hogsheads, no chill-filtration, natural colour, limited release of 9000 bottles
Colour: apple juice
Nose: well, this isn’t a full on sherry monster. Yeah it’s an influence but this is more luscious fruity notes including pineapple and the wild blackberry bushes the kind that you used to discover as a kid yet rarely see nowadays. More fond aromas with red liquorice, Highland heather and caramel waffles. The sherry note is a well worn leather bound diary come December.
Taste: that sherry-lite feeling continues from the nose onto the palate. Lots of fresh vanilla and honey including the sticky texture that coats the tongue. A touch of tobacco ash once again, walnuts and ginger cake. Without water I’m finding the finish is more prolonged with black pepper and buttered toast so it is delicate – be careful with the water!
So there you have it and interesting snapshot of how Arran is today. I find these events fascinating to participate it and observe. Having the drams and taking part does make it interactive, but even if you don’t have say the Arran 18, you may have another whisky from the distillery in your stash.
Which to buy? Well, I found the 18 year old more layered and interesting. For a 100% matured sherry cask whisky it lacks many of the expected characteristics including its appearance. As I commented during the event; Arran seems to get better with age much like the Lowland distilleries such as Linlithgow.