Record keeping is a laborious task and probably by far the least attractive part of working in a distillery. I’ve been on distillery visits and have talked to distillery managers, asking them about their day-to-day. So much of it involves administrative work. For health and safety, tax and excise or internal purposes. Distilling whisky is but a part of their work, like the cherry on top of all the repetitive tasks outside of whisky production, which can be repetitive in itself.
So, life of a distillery manager isn’t always as romantic as it sometimes is made out to be. I would quickly get bored of the administrative duties, probably doing no more than the bare minimum. I’m not saying that’s what happened with the records for the Arran 1996 24 Years that was recently bottled for The Whisky Exchange, but record keeping at Arran distillery was apparently a bit spotty back then. And while the colour of this whisky might suggest sherry maturation, nobody knows for sure. It could be a wine cask too.
I suppose they were busy doing other, more important stuff and forgot to jot down the provenance of the cask somewhere. Although I could easily argue that knowing the cask type is one of the most important bits of information for a whisky producer. After all, 100 percent of a whisky’s flavour is influenced by its time spent in the cask. Most importantly though, not matter the cask type, is how it tastes now that it has been bottled. And it goes down pretty damn well.
Arran 1996 24 Years (53.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, C#757)
Nose: Gentle but rich and fresh, focusing on red apple, orange zest, Demerara sugar, and strawberry, accompanied by sour notes from blackcurrants and aceto di balsamico. Touches of cocoa powder and coffee powder too. Quite attractive. Taste: An interesting floral, perfume-y yet spicy arrival, with plenty of pepper, nutmeg and ginger. Some almond oil, bitter chocolate and hazelnuts as well. A whiff of orange pith. Finish: It’s the floral, perfum-y side that lingers. Hints of freshly cut grass as well. Even a touch of ashes.
Such a weird, yet interesting single malt, which makes it hard to put a proper rating on it. The Arran 1996 24 Years for The Whisky Exchange is not what you would expect and there's quite a discrepancy between the palate and nose as well. But it's not bad. It's actually one of the more singular whiskies I've had in a while. Available here.