A trio from the Isle of Arran
In a little over a month I’m going to visit Arran distillery as part of a sailing trip to the Isles on the west coast of Scotland. I mainly hear good things about Arran-whisky, but I’m not very familiar with them myself. Up until recently I only ever tried their Amarone Cask Finish, which is okay, but nothing special. I’d say it’s high time to familiarize myself with some of their other expressions. Here we go!
Arran 14yo (46%, OB)
Nose: Malty and very fresh with a lot of citrus, freshly cut grass and vanilla. The sherry influence is noticeable with some faint fudge. There is also an off-note that I find hard to describe, and don’t really like all that much.
Taste: Pretty dry, some saw dust, spices and pepper. A little bit of mint and caramel as well. Not very complex, but it is fairly balanced.
Finish: A short finish. Nutty, malty and caramel.
Arran Machrie Moor Third Edition (46%, OB)
Nose: Very lightly peated with only 20ppm, and it shows. After a first whiff of peat, it was quickly overpowered by other aromas. Plenty of influence from the bourbon-cask. Some pineapple, banana and green apple. Overall a very faint nose.
Taste: If I were to taste this blind, I would have a hard time to taste the peat. To call this a peated Arran is almost an overstatement. The taste is a bit bland, with some pepper and vanilla.
Finish: As far as peated whiskies go, this is a very short finish. Bitter and spicy.
Arran Sauternes Cask Finish (50%, OB)
Nose: A bit weak at first, it takes time to open up. Once it does there are some notes of marzipan, citrus and oak. There’s also some melon and apricot.
Taste: Honey, grassy and a bit zesty, which I like. also some burnt oak and tannins. It’s more powerful then the previous two Arrans, probably because of the higher alcohol percentage.
Finish: A warm, medium length finish with some orange and honey.
Out of this trio the best one is clearly the 14yo: just more well-rounded and balanced than the other two. All in all it’s fair to say I’m not overly impressed. They are all available for less than 40 euro, but the only one I’d consider buying would be the 14yo. I’ll post my notes on two other Arran whiskies in the near future, both of ’em plenty better than these three.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.