Arran Waltz, Tango & Foxtrot (2017)
I don’t know about the country where you live in, but in The Netherlands almost all the single cask releases from Isle of Arran Distillery have a cutesy name nowadays. It started with a duo of Arran whiskies, one from a bourbon cask and the other from a sherry cask, called The White Wizard and The Dark Lord.
Both were excellent, and sold out quickly, only to see many of them being re-sold on the secondary market for a premium. The succes of these two whiskies set a precedent, and ever since we’ve seen quite a few odd-named Arran in The Netherlands. Like Bright Early Spring, Solstitium Brumalis, The Prancing Horse, Solstitium Aestivum and Caramba.
One of the latest examples is a trio of Arran whiskies released at the same time, one older one from an ex-bourbon cask, and two younger examples. A peated Arran from an ex-bourbon cask, and a sherried expression as well, unpeated. The names? The Waltz, Tango and Foxtrot. Do you get it? Well, do you? DO YOU?
Nose: The high alcohol percentage is noticeable, but not distracting. Somewhat nutty to start, with macademias and mainly walnuts, but also plenty of fresh red fruits, like strawberry, plus some raspberry. There’s even a hint of rum-soaked raisins, as well as sultanas. Very pleasant.
Taste: Lovely creamy texture, with hints of caramel and honey, but it also is quite spicy. Think chili peppers. While the nose is fairly well-rounded, the palate lacks balance, and is more youthful. Add water, and it becomes more nutty. Not much room left for any fruit flavours to leave an impact.
Finish: Spices linger for a little while.
Nose: A fair amount of peat, with a touch of rubber, but not too dominant. Pretty briny, with just a hint of ripe banana, pink grapefruit and honey, as well as a whisper of charred lemon peel.
Taste: Salty with some chili spice, as well as rubber and peat smoke. There’s a hint of vanilla, and honey and banana too. Quite enjoyable.
Finish: Lingering smoke, and after a while some grassiness, and even a slight waxiness.
Nose: Sweet and VERY fruity. Cherries at the forefront, but also honey, stewed apples, and pear skin. There’s peach too, as well as apricot, and a hint of fudge.
Taste: Follows along the same lines as the nose does, with a bit of an added spiciness. So we’ve got the fruitiness and the sweetness, but now with some nutmeg too, as well as a hint of white pepper.
Finish: Bitter, and on the shorter side.
The Foxtrot is clearly the winner here (it was also the most costly), and the difference in rating would’ve been even higher, hadn’t it been for the disappointing finish. While the Waltz started of well, the palate just couldn’t quite keep up. The Tango is in the mold of other young, heavily peated whiskies: good, but never exciting and far from unique.
Thanks for the samples, Harmen. Much appreciated!
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.