Arran are one of the newer Scottish distilleries, established only in 1995. As with the revived Bruichladdich after them, in order to keep the cash flow going, Arran have released a large number of finished and other experimental young malts in special releases and limited editions. Not all of these have been everyone’s cup of tea and the distillery thus has a somewhat variable reputation. However, I really like this official 14 yo which was released in 2010. Bottled at 46% and without chill-filtration it seems to highlight the quality of Arran’s spirit coming out of ex-bourbon casks. It does seem to confound further the notion of terroir in malt whisky that some are increasingly committed to as this tastes very similar to bourbon cask malts from the Speyside.
Arran 14 (46%; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)
Nose: Biscuity malt, a little grassy. The malt turns to toasted wheat and then some fruity notes begin to develop: honey and bright citrus first and then something a little musky, moderating the citrus which keeps on coming. After a while the citrus resolves to grapefruit and the musky thing is over-ripe melon; some white pepper sprinkled over it all. After more time there’s a mellow nuttiness: cashew or hazelnut butter. Water brightens the citrus up and then turns it into citronella. Some sweetness now too (simple syrup).
Palate: Ah, very nice: malty and lemony and a lovely mouthfeel. The musky fruit shows up a little later as does some wood (toasted but not tannic). With time the flavours get deeper and the malty foundation, in particular, gets quite rich. Water’s not as good to the palate (I may have added too much)–the fruit gets a little damped down and it’s mostly the malt talking now. The fruit does get a little more fermented though.
Finish: Long. The lemon lingers along with some tingling wood spice. Water pushes the lemon and the wood back and makes the finish somewhat uninteresting.
Comments: Some aspects of the nose reminded me of this Littlemill. I really like this whisky; it’s a perfect summer drinker. I’ll probably get another bottle at some point, and I’m also looking forward to their older expressions which should be out any day now.
Rating: 85 points.