Whisky Review:The Arran 1996 Single Cask bottled for The Whisky Exchange celebrating 20 years online

Style: Delicate and Fruity

Nose:
Pear and peach aroma intertwining gracefully at the front, delicate and pleasantly sweet. Followed by a subtle mash of assorted fruits – tropical, orchard, throwing in a bit of citrus and even forest berries. Caramel lightly drizzling on honeycomb, while peppermint and juniper berries forming a high overtone. Barley echoes softly to finish. Exceptional.

Palate:
The fruitiness develops towards peaches and nectarines, a delicious and silky entrance. The sweet front wanes sooner than expected as dry barley is more outspoken this time. Vanilla porridge, coconut shreds, minerals and maybe even hint of metallic notes forming a dry and sturdy layer in the middle. Ester fruits gradually opening up with patience – apricots and oranges with a slight earthiness coated around the rims.

Finish:
All the fruits are re-summoned back and boiling down into tantalizing sweetness which overrides the dryness on the palate. Cherries and red fruits finally shine through.

Thoughts:
Sometimes I wonder why there is a cult-following with this relatively new distillery, but when there are delicious drops like this, you will understand – A wide spectrum of sweet, delicate fruits delivered in such a silky, elegant fashion. The texture, the delivery, how often you can see spirit that delicate at this age? Although this dram is a tad dry on the palate to my liking, but it is one underrated and memorable dram.

☆ [Recommended]

[50.4% | Original Bottling | 1996 Distilled | 2018 Bottled | Single Cask | Cask number: 081 | 160 of 324 Bottles | Non Coloured | Non Chill Filtered | Matured in Sherry Hogshead | *]

Whisky Review: The Arran Millenium Casks

Style: Fruity and Spicy

Nose:

Youthful, spicy edge dangling on top while we have light kamquat and candied pear mixing chocolate malt powder on the nose. The aroma continues to dance on the spicy edge, citrus sweetness, milk duds and vanilla icing sugar beginning to emerge as it breathes out. Nutmeg, cinnamon and a touch of tree bark to finish.

Palate:

Begins with a spicy sting, once it opens up to fresh kamquats immersed into vanilla milkshake. Sago pudding floating on top, tropical fruits buzzing in, a layer of barley-agar agar. Dry spice sinks in, earthy nutmeg, cacao powder sprinkling down on over-roasted almonds at the back.

Finish:

Chocolate oak, dry barley crushed into many pieces and vanilla cupcake.

Thoughts:

This is the very first Arran I bought back then a few years ago, and to be honest, I did not know anything about the distillery at that time… Ah, the old days… Now, revisiting this, it feels somewhat similar but slightly different expression to what Arran is now. The Millenium Casks is less creamy but more on the barley, and the vibe is a bit different too. Maybe that is because of the (lack of) maturing age, or maybe there are some distillation tweaks along the way? An interesting, youthful dram.

✓ [Recommended if you like the Style/ Distillery]

[53.5% / Original Bottling / No Age Statement / Natural Cask Strength / Natural Colour / Non Chill Filtered / 7800 Bottles / Limited Edition / T]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Cadenhead Small Batch Arran 1997 Aged 19 Years

Style: Fruity, Oily and Spicy

Nose:

Fragrant apples, peaches and apricots lightly painted with honeycomb wax. Candied fruits adding more richness to the core. Lemon aloe vera, a powerful surge of spice, especially considering it is 52.4%. Then we have ginger, peppermint and a touch of nutmeg to finish. Fruity and spicy.

Thoughts:

Starts with a spicy cut on the palate, followed by apple cubes, tropical fruits and some grassy eau de vie to give a herbal tone. The drier facet begins to show – ginger shreds, nutmeg and coffee beans. Cider with a lick of salty butter. Malt biscuits towards the end.

Finish:

More yellow butter notes lingering, apple pie and red fruits fainting slowly.

Thoughts:

A pleasant small batch offering from the Cadenhead. The symmetrical contribution from the Sherry and Boubon cask gives a comfortable balance to the expression. Relatively dense stone fruit sweetness bolstered up a satisfactory, oily texture. Not your usual Arran I guess, which is generally lighter, but I quite like this, tick!

✓ [Recommended if you like the Style/ Distillery]

[52.4% / 1997 Distilled / 2016 Bottled / 486 Bottles / A Vatting of 1 Bourbon Hogshead and 1 Sherry Hogshead / Cask Strength / Non Coloured / T]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: The Arran Sherry Single Cask 1998 (2014 Autumn Release)

Style: Sweet, Creamy and Spicy

Nose:
Gentle flow of creamy apricots and poached pears on the nose, clean and fragrant. Very nice. Dry spices – nutmeg, ginger and a subtle hint of Tsao-ko. White flower, oak staves and vanilla sticks stirring at the back. Quite aromatic, simple but elegant.

Palate:
Starts with subtle sherry notes and we have more clean apricots and candied pears as we approach. Orange drops and coconut cream slotted one level down. Vanilla milk swirling gently, then comes a powerful spice spike, followed by dry spices again, ginger, earthy nutmeg and more Tsao-ko. Pretty similar to what the nose has suggested. Sweet and spicy all the way to the end.

Finish:
Aloe vera, smashed apricots and vanilla malt to finish.

Thoughts:
It is a sherry cask matured Arran but the red fruits are pretty much at the back seat throughout the journey. This Arran shows more of its distillate character – a combination of sweet fruits, creamy texture and dry spices. A minimalistic style of whisky, it is not over the moon, but not every expression has to be like a novel, especially when it is easy-drinking and delicious.

✓ [Recommended if you like the Style/ Distillery]

[52% / 1998 Distilled / 2014 Bottled / Single Cask / Aged 16 Years / 17 of 279 Bottles / Cask Number: 130 / Cask Strength / T]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: SMWS 121.61 Arran “Pulled pork with chocolate mousse”

Style: Sherry and Spicy

Nose:
Juicy dried figs with sublime chocolate mousse (as the name has suggested) filling. Dark prunes with slight tartness. Ginger shreds and meaty notes swept under, blueberry jam beaming beautifully.

Palate:
Scintillating sherry notes with robust spice. Chocolate strawberry jam, honey figs, red fruits cake dominates the palate. The sweetness goes on with black currants, icing sugar and sided with a nice peppermint pinch. Malty notes slowly surface and the texture is exquisitely softly and oily.

Finish:
Cranberries, milk chocolate, sweet raisins with light spices flickering gently at the back.

Thoughts:
A very beautiful sherried Arran. Admirable complexity within the sherry – multi-layering of red fruits, sublime balance between sweetness and dryness and the great composure. Must-try dram for sherry fans who can take on cask strengths whiskies. I have the urge to give ☆☆ but maybe I will settle with an informal 1.5☆?

☆ [Recommended]

[61.1% • 2012 Bottled • 2002 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • 639 Bottles • Aged 10 Years • Refill Sherry Butt Matured • *+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: The Arran Smugglers’ Series Volume I

Tasting Notes:

The Arran Smugglers’ Series Volume I

Style: Sweet and Spicy

Nose:

Begins with fragrance of ripe mangosteen, sourness of passion fruit, pears and other tropical fruits. Followed by nose-drying ginger spice. Cutting through it, we have some coconut vanilla ice cream. A hint of dryness, probably some smoke? But definitely a faint hiss of peat at the back end.

Palate:

Delicious sweet and sharp spice on the first touch. A mouthful of vanilla ice cream drizzled with passion fruit sauce. On the side we have some eye-watering mint and ginger spice. The intensity stays high, sharp and at times, incinerating. Tone tunes down after a while and more liquorice and caramel came through. Very soft latte notes towards the end.

Finish:

Fiery spice growling, diluted malt syrup, soft fruity and creamy notes fuse with the peat to produce a round finish. Soft and subtle ending after the spice burns out.

Thoughts:

A quite sweet and quite spicy whisky. I think “ice cream” might be the best word to describe the texture, thickness and sweetness here, such a lovely presentation. You don’t see a lot of whiskies which have this delicate buffering touch at the end of the sweetness! For the spicy part, I enjoy it very much, there is an extra edge and prevent flavours going too dull. But how much spiciness will suffice is a rather subjective thing. Anyways, if you like your whisky sweet and spicy, here is your perfect match!

[56.4%・2015・Non Coloured・Non Chill Filtered・No Age Statement・Cask Strength・Limited Edition・8700 Bottles]

-Esmond