Arran ‘The Illicit Stills’ (Smugglers’ Series, 2015)
After their Devil’s Punch Bowl-releases, Arran introduced a new series last year: the Smuggler’ Series. I won’t tire you with all the marketing blabla, but needless to say the first release in the new series, The Illicit Stills, has turned into quite a collectors item.
The Illicit Stills is a vatting of ex-bourbon casks and port pipes. I believe some (not all) of those casks contained heavily peated spirit. In total 8,700 bottles were released. The reviews have been mixed. Not everybody was pleased with the result. Since I read some of the reviews I couldn’t help being influenced, so I was skeptical when I poured this in my glass.
Arran ‘The Illicit Stills’ (56,4%, OB, Smugglers’ Series, 2015)
Nose: Creamy. Pretty citric with lemon zest and lime. The peat is subtle, but definitely there. A briny or salty sea breeze. It also has a sweeter element with sweet butter, vanilla and apricots.
Taste: A spicy arrival (chili peppers and ginger mainly) and fairly peaty. A tad rubber-ish, but nothing bothersome. I don’t find much port influence. Some canned peaches provide a bit of sweetness.
Finish: Medium in length. Plenty of peat and a bit of citrus.
I’m convinced. I enjoyed this a lot and wouldn’t mind owning a bottle. But that’s the problem with these limited editions, if you don’t snap one up right away, you’re too late. I’d now be paying almost double the original retail price, and 200 euro this isn’t worth.
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.