They sometimes say that whisky can transport you to a place and time, much like a song can evoke strong memories. And it’s true. This new Arran 1996 24 Years for The Netherlands brings back happy memories of my trips to the Isle of Arran. But after 2,5 years without a trip to Scotland even the best of Scotch whiskies isn’t enough of a fix. I’m a melancholic mess at times. First-world problems I guess.
I used to go 3 or 4 times a year. Scotland sometimes felt more like home than my actual home. And I love my home! Previous to the pandemic my last visit was during Spirit of Speyside 2019, which had been an uncharacteristically long absence to begin with. Due to COVID-19, it’s now been much longer than I ever anticipated.
Scotland is my happy place. It’s where I relax. It’s where I plan on living in the future. It’s been such a big part of my life for almost a decade that it almost feels like a piece of me is missing. I realise how extremely dramatic that sounds, and I’m not the type at all. But the pandemic has limited all of our lives.
I suppose that partly depends on how strict you’ve been. I’ve been extremely careful, maybe even a little more than necessary, but the prospect of potentially having longterm organoleptic problems scares me. Let alone all the other myriad of COVID symptoms. The vaccine has helped in that respect. I feel safer and much more comfortable, but I’m not yet back to normal. And neither is the rest of the world.
Since getting vaccinated I have been to some smaller gatherings, but soon I plan on attending my first drinks festival in nearly two years. That’ll involve a 4 hour roundtrip by public transportation, which I’m not looking forward too. Plus we’re entering a fourth wave as COVID cases have sharply risen in The Netherlands. That makes me nervous. And hesitant.
But for now I still plan on going. It’ll be a big step for me, but I hope that attending will instill some confidence in going back to a more normal life. Maybe even enough to finally start planning another trip to Scotland. Because I can’t say I haven’t been secretly thinking about it. For now I’ll stick a little longer to drinking whisky in the comfort of my own home, starting with this Premium Cask selection from Arran.
By the way, have you noticed that there’ve been quite a few Arran from 1996, many (or all?) of them matured in fortified wine casks? This particular exclusive for The Netherlands matured in a sherry hogshead and is another such example.
Arran 1996 24 Years (49.7%, OB for The Netherlands, C#1996/839)
Nose: A good amount of blackcurrants and strawberry jam, with some subtle notes of damp soil, tobacco and burlap in the background. There are some lighter touches like orange zest and floral notes, as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. Taste: Cherries, cocoa powder and soft notes of mint, but also touches of espresso and chocolate covered coffee beans, with some hazelnuts and pralines too. Finally a whisper of charred oak and fennel. Finish: Touches of mint and bitter chocolate before settling in a sweeter territory. Long.
It's been long since I've had a sherry-matured Arran this good. Maybe it's not as fruity and juicy as I would like, but this release exclusively for The Netherlands has lovely dark and bitter notes.