Here is the third of three Arran reviews for the week. The first two were official distillery releases: the Quarter Cask/The Bothy Batch 3, which is part of the distillery’s current range; and the 2018 release of the 14 yo, which has apparently since been discontinued. Today’s whisky is an independent release, a single bourbon hogshead bottled by Cadenhead in 2017. Somewhat unusually it seems to have been bottled for the American market. Coincidentally, there was also a distillery bottled 17 yo sherry cask from the 1999 vintage that was bottled for the Japanese market. But that is neither here nor there.
I liked the 14 yo quite a bit more than the NAS Quarter Cask. Will I like this 17 yo even more? Let’s see.
Arran 17, 1999 (55.2%; Cadenhead; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Lemon and toasted oak to start. On the second sniff there’s malt and some toffee. The toffee expands as it sits and the fruit transitions from lemon to apricot (baked rather than fresh or jammy). Some wood glue in here too now. Sweeter with water but otherwise in the same vein. Continue reading
My week of Arran reviews got off to an inauspicious start with the Quarter Cask, Batch 3. Let’s hope this 14 yo moves us in the other direction. It’s been a while since I’ve had the Arran 14 but I’ve always liked it when I have in the past (see my review of a bottle from the 2010 release). I have to say I don’t remember seeing it on shelves here in a while but that may just be a marker of how little whisky I’ve bought in the last couple of years. This sample is not from a recent release, for what it’s worth: my source tells me the bottle is from 2018. I’m interested to see what it’s like.
Arran 14, 2018 Release (46%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Ah yes, a lovely blast of fruit, with lemon and pineapple leading the way; malt comes up from below to join the fruit, bringing a touch of yeast with it. Some oak framing it all below. On the second and third sniffs the fruit gets muskier with cider and overripe pears. A few drops of water push the acid down and emphasize the malt and muskier fruit. Continue reading
I think I may have promised a week of Arran reviews in July. Let’s get to it now before we get too far into August. First up, an official release and one that became part of the distillery’s portfolio in 2015. I’m not sure if this series has come to the US—Whiskybase only shows one 750 ml bottle and that’s from 2015. It is first matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks and then finished in much smaller quarter casks (also American oak). I’ve seen references to the quarter cask finish having lasted two years for the first batch. I’m not sure if that has remained the case for subsequent releases. The overall age is, I’m guessing, not very high, which makes this a bit of an outlier relative to the last few Arrans I’ve reviewed: the 20 yo Brodick Bay and a 21 yo bottled for OMC’s 20th anniversary among them. I’m generally a fan of Arran’s fruity profile. I hope it’s not overwhelmed here by oak via both the first-fill bourbon and then the smaller quarter cask maturation. Having now jinxed myself let’s see what the whisky is actually like. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Douglas Laing, the originators of the Old Malt Cask label, was established in 1948. I believe that for a long time their business was blends. I’m not sure if the Old Malt Cask line was their first foray into independent bottling of single malt whiskies but when I got into single malt whisky in a big way in the mid-late 2000s, it was a very established series with a very good reputation. You could have convinced me it had been around forever. As it happens, it was only introduced in 1998. At some point in the last few years the company split into two and the Old Malt Cask and Old & Rare labels went with the new Hunter Laing company (they also own the First Editions, Hepburn’s Choice and Sovereign labels). The Old Malt Cask packaging has remained the same, with the iconic hexagonal box and the whiskies are still bottled at 50%. Anyway, to mark the 20th anniversary of the label the company put out a number of releases last year, and through bottle splits I acquired a few of these. Over the next week and a half I’m going to go through them. I’m going to begin with this Arran 21. I actually purchased this bottle before tasting my sample, on account of a glowing review by Matt G. of Whisky Musings. Thankfully, I did like it a lot when I did try it and I’ve also been enjoying the bottle, which I opened right away. Here are my notes. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
My bourbon cask tour of Scotland continues. So far the itinerary has included a couple of stops at Aberlour in the Speyside, at Bladnoch in the Lowlands and at Bowmore on Islay. We’re on another island today: Arran. I’ve not reviewed much Arran on the blog and, indeed, it’s been a while since I’ve had any. This is not a recent release: it’s a single cask from 2013 and I think it might be the oldest Arran I’ve had so far—not that there are very many very old Arrans (I think production only began a year prior in 1995). I think this was one of a few single casks released in the US in 2013—though my memory can rarely be trusted. I’ve not been following the distillery very much and I’m not sure what they’re up to these days or what their general reputation is like. I do know I’ve always enjoyed their 14 yo when I’ve had it (the 10 yo a little bit less). I have also reviewed another single bourbon cask released a few years before this one. If this is as good it’ll be pretty good. Let’s see. Continue reading
After a week of whiskies in the 20+ age range let’s try some that are a fair bit younger. Who knows, maybe I’ll be more enthused by them than I was by the older lot. First up, the Arran 10, the entry-level malt from the only distillery on the Isle of Arran. (At least I assume it’s their entry-level malt: they haven’t slapped out a NAS with a Gaelic name when I wasn’t looking, have they?)
I don’t have a whole lot of experience of the Arran and in fact may not actually have ever had the Arran 10 before. At least I don’t recall it—not that that’s saying much at this point. I do like the 14 yo very much, and I also liked the single sherry and bourbon casks I reviewed (the port cask finish, not as much). Interested to see what I make of this one. Let’s get straight to it.