After a week of reviews of whiskies from Mortlach (here, here and here) and then a week of reviews of whiskies from Highland Park (here, here and here), here is a week of reviews with a more diffuse theme: 20+ yo whiskies from distilleries from different whisky producing regions of Scotland. First up, representing the islands, is a distillery I have not reviewed very much from: Arran.
Brodick Bay is an official release, a 20 yo whisky that came out in 2020 and was the first in something called The Explorer Series. I don’t know how many more releases have followed or how they were made but I can tell you that this was put together from spirit matured in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks and finished in bodega oloroso casks (not sure if that means European or American oak). It’s not the oldest Arran I’ve reviewed (that would be this 21 yo) but it’s close. Let’s hope it’s at least as good.
Arran 20, Brodick Bay (49.8%; from a bottle split)
Nose: A very pleasant well-rounded nose with a mix of toasted oak, orchard fruit (apple, peach), golden raisins and toffee leading the way. Some orange peel emerges as it sits along with some sweet malty notes. Some pineapple too now. The fruit expands as it sits and there’s some pastry crust as well now. A few drops of water bring out more of the citrus (extra lemon peel now) and adds some apricot to it—and after a bit, some cherry.
Palate: More citrus here off the top but otherwise it’s very much as predicted by the nose. Rich texture and a good drinking strength. Sweeter as it goes and the oak becomes a bit more prominent (not tannic). More of the fruit with more air—especially the citrus (now between orange and lemon) and also more malt and some cream. Okay, let’s add some water. It pushes the oak back and lets the citrus take centerstage.
Finish: Long. The citrus crests and fades and more of the toasted oak begins to emerge. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is very good. The oloroso finish is not overbearing—there’s no wine separation at all—and the interplay of malt and fruit and oak is very good indeed. I particularly liked the nose, both neat and with water. The palate needed a few drops of water to show its best self, I thought. Not sure how much this went for, but if reasonable I would have been very happy to have a full bottle.
Rating: 88 points.
This was reasonable when it came out, but now (in secondary), no longer a good value. I want to say I paid about $150 or so when it first appeared. Now I think it’s well over $300+
I’m not sure I’d pay $150 for this now, leave alone $300!