Saturday, 11 August 2018

Fly with the Eagles - a taste of Arran

I last visited Arran in April '18, a beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland but they really need to sort out the roads! At the time there was only one distillery on the island - Isle of Arran in the north near Lochranza but soon it will be joined by its sister distillery in the south near Lagg. Arran's logo features a pair of Golden Eagles which can sometimes be seen flying over the distillery.

I've tried a few of their whiskies in my time including the excellent Exciseman from the Smugglers Series, but in this blog we'll be trying the regular 10yo, 14yo, Bothy Quarter cask and Port Finish.

I picked up the 10yo at the distillery, won a bottle of the Port Finish and have sample swapped the 14yo (thanks to James @jdpjamesp) and Bothy (thanks to Stew @MaltMentalist).

So what are my thoughts?

Dram: Arran 10yo (46% ABV)
Appearance: Pale Gold, fast thin legs when swirled.
Nose: Vanilla, honey and a little fresh cut grass.
Palate: Vanilla and honey straight from the nose but with the addition of a little sherbet.
Finish: A little spice and slightly drying.
Overall: A fairly delicate, uncomplicated dram, easy drinking.

Dram: Arran 14yo (46% ABV)
Appearance: Pale Gold, very slow fat legs when swirled.
Nose: similar to the 10yo, vanilla and honey but with some citrus in their too - a little grapefruit.
Palate: A little watery to start but develops the honey of its younger sibling, some coconut and very gentle spice on the tongue and maybe a hint of smoke?
Finish: Not as spicy as the 10yo but there's definitely some smoke in there!
Overall: A step up from the 10yo giving up some of the spice notes for a little smoke (not sure if peated barley is used though?).

Dram: Arran The Bothy Qtr Cask Batch 1 NAS (55.7% ABV)
Appearance: Gold, gravity defying swirls - eventually resulting in slow thin legs.
Nose: Some of the vanilla but this time with some pineapple - similar to an old grain whisky!
Palate: The step up in ABV hits you with this one, again a little dry but with a sweet syrupy mouthfeel. A little sea spray and tropical fruit wiith some spice towards the end.
Finish: Spicy and warming, with a hint of smoke.
Overall: Not what I was expecting! The name Bothy conjured up illicit stills and whisky put into small sherry casks - there's no sherry influence here but the extra wood contact of the smaller casks has given some tropical notes. - Lovely dram!

Dram: Arran Port Cask Finish NAS (50% ABV)
Appearance: Pink gold, more gravity defying swirls leaving small blobs around the glass - eventually resulting in slow thin legs.
Nose: Red wine dominates with some gentle red fruit and nuts.
Palate: Thick mouthfeel with orange marmalade and a peppery spice, there's some milk chocolate in there too. Very drying.
Finish: Sweet and spicy.
Overall: This is a great dram, I love it with a strong cheese but on it's own it shows how well Arran have married their spirit with the Port Casks - I love a Port finish - Glen Moray do a great one too which is worth finding!