On Wednesday I had a review of a bourbon cask Arran; I did not care for it overmuch. Let’s see if we can get my Arran trajectory back in a positive direction with this sherry cask release. The bottler in this case is Acorn. They are a Japanese outfit that has apparently been releasing selections since the late 1990s. I think it might only have been in the last half-decade or so though that their casks became more widely available outside Japan. Or at least that’s when I first noticed them. This profile on ScotchWhisky.com notes that they now have distribution in the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and Japan—so still not so widely available, I guess. (ScotchWhisky.com, by the way, has good information on a number of independent bottlers—I’m hoping their list will slowly become more comprehensive: a number of major bottlers are not yet on it.)
This cask was released in 2016. It’s a sherry hogshead, and interestingly was not bottled at cask strength. I wonder if it was a little too unbalanced at full strength—given the greater wood contact for a sherry hogshead vs a sherry butt. Anyway, let’s see what it’s like.
Arran 19, 1997 (45%; Acorn Ltd.; sherry hogshead #12; from a bottle split)
Nose: Sweet orange with some cherry, some leather and some dusty oak. The oak recedes a bit with time but nothing new shows up. With a few drops of water there’s some apricot and a bit of toffee.
Palate: More of the oak at the start and the fruit at the rear. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. Leafier on the second sip and more oak too. The oak gets pushed back a bit with water and it gets a little sour but nothing more interesting develops.
Finish: Long. It seems like it’s going to be short and blank at first but then there’s a a lot more fruit that shows up here—the orange and cherry, yes, but also some berries and then at the end some tropical hints. Just a milder version of the above with water.
Comments: I liked the nose from the get-go but the palate was a little generic, which left me unprepared for the fruit that developed on the finish. Water didn’t improve the palate, which makes me think that this cask might indeed have been too oaky at full strength and that 45% is the perfect strength for it. Anyway, it’s a good whisky but with the interesting fruit consigned to the finish, and not much intensity there, I’m not disappointed I don’t have a full bottle. I liked it as much as the last sherry cask Arran I reviewed and a lot more than Wednesday’s bourbon cask but I think Arran’s profile is more suited to bourbon cask maturation.
Rating: 85 points.