Last year saw me exploring quite a number of different whiskies from the Isle of Arran distillery. While a taste of Arran whisky – along with the island’s stunning scenery – nudged me towards visiting the distillery, this trip in turn made me enthusiastic about trying more of Arran’s excellent whisky. Although the distillery’s Tutored Tasting offered a huge variety of different Arran whiskies, I felt I wanted to explore the Arran range in a bit more quantity and with some extra time on my hands. So I lined up a collection of Arran whiskies, invited some friends over, and enjoyed a very delicious tasting. Below is a short description of each of the whiskies, including a link to the full review.
Arran 10 year old
As Arran’s core expression, the 10 year old showcases the vibrant, fruity distillery character in its purest form. With smooth notes of malted barley, the 10 year old is both fresher and more delicate than the Cask Finish series described below. Bottled at 46%.
Arran Sauternes Cask Finish
The first of tonight’s Cask Finishes, this dram was finished in oak that previously held Sauternes, a sweet, white dessert wine from the Bordeaux region. This extra maturation has imbued this Arran with sweet, honeyed flavours. Much bolder than the 10 year old, the Sauternes Cask is nonetheless lighter and less complex than its other Cask Finish siblings. Bottled at 50%.
Arran Port Cask Finish
Darker and fruitier than the Sauternes Cask, this dram adds those typical port flavours of red berries, almonds and toffee. The Port Cask has lost some of that typical Arran freshness and is an altogether mellower, almost musty proposition. Positions itself snugly in between the Madeira and Amarone Cask on the spectrum between nutty and fruity. Bottled at 50%.
Arran Amarone Cask Finish
Amarone is a rich Italian red wine, and it has definitely left its mark on this whisky. Darkest in terms of colour and the most fragrant of the bunch, Arran Amarone Cask ups the ante with sweet, sumptuous flavours and a silky mouthfeel. Of all the fruity Arrans in this tasting, Amarone Cask is without a doubt the fruitiest, with a long, lingering finish. Bottled at 50%.
Arran Madeira Cask Finish
Where the Amarone and Port Cask are quite similar, the Madeira Cask stands out. It sacrifices some of the fruitiness found in other bottlings, but substitutes this for a complex nutty profile. Madeira Cask is the smoothest dram in tonight’s tasting, and possibly my favourite. Then again, it’s hard to decide when you’re this spoilt for choice. Bottled at 50%.
Arran The Bothy Quarter Cask
Finished in smaller ‘quarter casks’ for extra contact with the wood, The Bothy bursts with oaky vanilla flavours. It has a spicy character and provides a noticeably bigger kick in terms of alcohol percentage. Although less sweet and complex than the Cask Finish drams, The Bothy makes up for this with sheer power. Bottled at 55.2%.
Arran Machrie Moor (Batch 6)
The only peated whisky of the night, Machrie Moor is best saved for last. After the fruity onslaught of this tasting, it’s refreshing to end on something slightly different. It turns out Arran lends itself very well to smoke, with Machrie Moor being a wonderful addition to the range. Bottled at 46%.