Arran Distillery Bottlings Tasting Notes

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Arran, Scotch Whisky A-G

The Arran ‘Peated Single Cask’ 3 year old 57.7%

Cask 116/ Dist: Dec 2005 Btl: Dec 2009/ Tasted: May 2010

Strangely this was bottled 4 days before its 4th birthday (distilled 12/12/05 – bottled 07/12/09), why they didn’t wait I have no idea.

Quite a shy nose. Faintly phenolic and briny notes float over a crisp, youthful honeyed barley and oat biscuit base. Slightly soapy and obviously immature, it takes some serious swirling to tease out the fragrant pine needle infused peat aromas.

Clean and slightly sooty on the palate. Very much like the nose, the trade mark honeyed barley is in its infancy and there is plenty of briny alcohol. Resplendent in its youthful intensity, softly peated and very salty.

With water the peat takes on a more Longrow-esque earthy/ peat character. Still quite reserved though. The palate I probably more complex, although less peaty now. The honeyed cereal character is embryonic and youthful, clean botanical marc-like notes abound. Still very coastal, maybe more so and the slightly phenolic peat puts in an appearance at the death.

It’s an interesting dram, which I’d like to see with maybe a few more years under its belt. However being rather modestly peated I would imagine that like Longrow for example the peated flavours would be eventually overwhelmed by the oak and distillery character. Maybe a CV bottling would be fun, blending both younger peated malt together with older spirits?

The Arran Malt 10 year old 46%

Tasted: Nov 2007

An intense and very clean nose. Opens with lashings of crisp barley, a refreshing breezy coastal note and distant smoke. Great depth and complexity the aromas continue to exude! Apricot, orange, tropical fruit, quince, lime – the list goes on. Superbly clean with a hint of vanilla oak, malt and dunnage floors. Again the palate is extremely clean and fruity. Like the nose it starts with the wonderfully crisp barley followed by apricot and fleshy tropical fruit. It goes on! – next up creamy vanilla, spices, delicate smoke  and coastal notes. Lovely long coastal saturated after taste. What a character!

The Arran 10 year old 46%

Re-Tasted: Dec 2013

The nose is rather herbal and honeyed with a good depth of lightly tropical fruit and plenty of vanilla oak.

The palate is sweet and tropical with hints of herbs and buttery oak vanillins. Lovely depth with the tropical fruit lingering. Finish with a little bittering from the oak.

The Arran 10 year old 46%

Re-Tasted: Jan 2014

Pungent and oily nose with liquorice root, apricot, high toned barley, salt, lemon and edgy spices. Those spices tread the line rather gingerly between earthy and murky. With time hints of honey and salted nuts appear.

Full and oily on the palate with orange conserve and lightly syrup coated apricot, followed by slightly bitter tannins, honey and coffee/ chocolate. Those spices do become increasingly bitter. Good, spicy, slightly dry and bitter finish, although the honey attempts to balance. Conclusion: Reasonably pleasant, although the oak is a little too bitter.

The Arran 10 year old 46%

Re-Tasted: Jan 2014

Nose: Pungent an oily with liquorice root, apricot, high toned barley, salt, lemon and edgy spices. Those spices tread the line rather gingerly between earthy and murky. With time hints of honey and salted nuts appear.

Palate: Full and oily with orange conserve and lightly syrup coated apricot, followed by slightly bitter tannins, honey and coffee/ chocolate. Those spices do become increasingly bitter.

Finish: Good, spicy, slightly dry and bitter finish, although the honey attempts to balance.

Conclusion: Reasonably pleasant, although the oak is a little too bitter.

The Arran 10 year old 46%

Re-Tasted: Aug 2014

A luscious and voluptuous nose of honey, barley and lightly fragrant tropical apricot, banana and orange. Lightly earthy and salty with a little grainy, spicy tannin, which becomes a little more prominent with time along with a little dusty peat.

The palate is full, honeyed and fruity. A little light coffee and grainy tannins reign the fruit in a little, but it still retains a lovely intensity with plenty of barley and white fruit on the middle. Long, earthy spice finish with some lingering, lightly bitter chocolate tannins.

Arran 10 year old 46%

Re-Tasted: Apr 2016

Luscious and honeyed aromas of subtly tropical apricot, apple and hints of marzipan, citrus, salt, barley and rose petals. The aromas become quite crisp as the coastal notes develop and with time hints of dusty spice and smoke.

Soft, honeyed and barley’d on the palate with a lovely depth of apricot, apple and malt. Quite robust and full with hints of vanilla, spice and citrus. Long and salty finish with hints of rose petals and lightly bittering oak. It’s less tropical than previous bottlings and possibly more barley’d with an almost ‘toshan-like character.

The Arran 10 year old 46%

Re-Tasted: Jan 2017

Deep and aromatic on the nose, more barley’d and straw-like than the last time I tasted it and not as exuberantly tropical, although there is still a lovely depth of orange, apricot and pineapple along with hints of salt, malt, coffee. Late floral honey.

The palate is like the nose, more barley led and less tropical, but still full with straw-like fruit, which makes it feel a little older than 10 years. Still malty and lightly salty, with hints of vanilla in the finish.

The Arran 1998 (10 Year Old) ‘250th Anniversary Robert Burns’ 43%

Bourbon/ Dist: 1998 Btl: 2009/ Tasted Sept 2012

The nose is quite full with the expected, slightly tropical apricot and banana aromas. It’s not as exuberantly fruity as some young Arran’s as the fruit has a more straw-like demeanour. With time some crystalised fruit, dusty spice and orange blossom notes become apparent.

The palate is very much like the nose with plenty of straw-like fruits, which gives it an impression of greater age. Quite minerally with some lightly tropical fruit skin notes on the middle, which leads into a slightly oily, vanilla custard finish.

The Arran 1999 (12 year old Cask Strength) ‘Batch 1’ 54.1%

First & Second Fill Sherry Hoggies/ Dist 1999 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: July 2012

A very intense and pungent nose, leading off with some refill sherry notes. Followed by plenty of cinnamon coated, fleshy banana, baked apple and hints of green fruit. With time the very creamy American oak comes through along with a slight coastal note, but it’s fighting against all the big, boisterous and earthy fruit! Finally some light coffee, walnuts and oxidised, dried fruit appears. This is a very complex and evolving nose.

Like the nose the palate is very intense opening with a touch of white fruit tinged with crisp citrus and coated with dark chocolate. Lightly peated with some earthy sherry spice and wood tannins. The middle displays a wonderful array of juicy sherried fruit, coffee, walnut, liquorice and more spice, and alcohol which masks the finish a tad, especially when you add in the wood tannins and salt!

A drop of water makes the nose crisper with a greater degree of emphasis on the green fruit – kiwi, greengage, gooseberry and green banana. Quite honeyed now. Seriously deep and rich, this oozes class! With time it becomes slightly perfumed and waxy with hints of apple and salt. The palate is softer and sweeter and has really opened out with a distinct digestive biscuit note along with barley and sweet malt, which mingle wonderfully with dense fruit and earth. Just like the nose it has become slightly perfumed with the green fruit evident on the finish along with hints of treacle, tobacco and hickory. Very smooth, very long and very impressive!

The Arran 12 year old Cask Strength ‘Batch 3’ 53.9%

This batch is a combination of 5 First-Fill Sherry Butts, 13 Second-Fill Sherry Hogsheads and 31 Bourbon barrels.

Tasted: Aug 2014

The nose is intense and darkly malted with plenty of earthy peat, charcoal, hyacinth along with taught honey and dusty barley. With time the sherry aromas become more prominent with hints of oxidised fruit, walnut and sweet coffee.

The palate is quite sweet to start with. Uber sweet barley and honey come crashing through along with a touch of earthy-peat and alcohol! Some light sherry notes are evident but it’s the fleshy apricot, banana and pineapple that comes through forcefully on the finish to balance all that drying alcohol and coastal notes.

With water the nose is a little fuller and more fragrant. It emphasises the dusty barley and fleshy tropical fruit whilst relegating the sherry to the background. The palate is again fuller, although the sherry has become more prominent here with a distinct nutty character. Still quite coastal on the finish but the fruit has rounded out and the finish is less drying.

The Arran 100 Proof 57%

Tasted: Jan 2008

Very reminiscent of Bruichladdich on the nose. Loads of crisp apples, apricot and yellow fleshy fruits, followed by crisp barley, orange, lemon and lime. Delicately coastal which develops a touch of coffee over time. Lovely intensity on the palate, rich and fruity with apricot, apple, pure honey and heather,. Good complexity and a nice balance with the crisp barley, wood notes and ginger coming in on the middle. Very long finish, finally showing its island/ coastal character. Definitely a summery dram.

The Arran 13 year old ‘Single Cask ‘ 57.7%

Sherry Cask 536/ Tasted: May 2010

The nose opens with the leafy Oloroso, but it is by no means overpowering.  Delightfully fruit, verging on the tropical with a gorgeous liquid orange thread running through the trade mark honeyed cereal character. This is stunningly complex with coastal dark fruits, flowers, liquorice and dry wood spices balancing the honeyed sweetness and even a late subtle peat note wafts in for good measure.

Open with sweet, honey coated banana and apricot along with hints of green fruit – kiwi/ gooseberry plus heather and gorse. The intense alcohol dumps liberal amounts of salt on to the tongue. Very bracing and slightly fishy. Subtle peat notes lurk in the background all the while. Superb bitter-sweet balance as the wood battles the sweet malt. This is entertainment of the highest calibre. Finally the almost youthful cereal note holds the high ground and the after taste is delicately floral.

A drop of water allows the fishy brine character to come to the fore, pushing the already subtle sherry note into the background. Still gorgeously fruity and subtly phenolic. Strangely enough the palate is less coastally. More rounded and honeyed, with the sherry taking on that candied sweet character. Still superbly balanced and long though.

The Arran 14 year old 46%

Bourbon/ Tasted: Apr 2011

A huge an enveloping tropical fruit nose. There is no shortage of floral-honey-nectar, barley, toffee’d banana, grape, lime and a touch of light spice. The aromas are all wrapped in this delicious brown sugar sprinkled maturity along with some supportive oak. With time some perfumed acacia top notes appear.

The palate is broad and generous, and exceedingly complex – opening with hints of green fruit, grape and kiwi before moving into fleshy tropical citrus, barley and banana territory. A lovely bracing coastal middle (which surprisingly was absent from the nose!) leads into a wood infused finish – cocoa, burnt butter, brown sugar. And just when you though it was all over the tropical fruit returns cloaked in a shroud of maturity and really lingers!

The Arran 14 year old 46%

Bourbon/ Sherry

Re-Tasted: Aug 2014

A lot peatier on the nose than I remember it to be. Quite herbal – thyme and camphor laced with floral honey and hints of oxidised dried fruit. Quite malty with a touch of treacle, leather, walnut, muscavdo sugar, coffee and spice. It feels a lot older than 14.

The palate id full of mature tropical fruit, malt and honey. Quite dark and lightly treacly with a touch of leather, tobacco, earth and peat. Luightly salted middle with hints of mocha and wood spice. Long and deliciously moist with the treacle and dried fruit notes lingering but balanced by the bracing coastal notes. Exceptionally good!

Arran 14 year old 46%

Re-Tasted: Apr 2016

Wonderfully mature aromas of honey, apricot, honeysuckle and perfumed acacia honey along with hints of gooseberry, greengage and lime. With time a touch of malt biscuits, dusty barley, smoke and salt appears.

Full and quite malty/ biscuity with honey, apricot and barley. A touch of citrus and sherry wood spice appears and the whole palate shows a lovely coastal saturation. Robust and full, like the 10 year old with a long, spicy and honeyed finish with lingering sweet smoke, barley and almost tart citrus.

Arran 18 year old 46%

Sherry

Tasted: Apr 2016

The nose shows more maturity than the 14 year old (not a surprise!) With gorgeous dusty vanilla oak and sub-tropical apricot and green apple all wrapped in a lovely, subtle, subtle, spicy sherry wood blanket. Seriously malty with honey and a touch of treacle. The aromas really darken with time and develops a touch of smoky bacon! Yum!

Mature and quite malty on the palate with light treacle, tar and sharp citrus. A beautiful depth of mature fruit and oak with dark chocolate, spice and baked fruit. A bracing salinity adds balance. The sherry is omnipresent but doesn’t overpower the character of the spirit. Long and very spicy with hints of vanilla, almond, dusty, coffee’d spice, malt and heather. That has a serious wow factor!

Arran 18 year old 46%

Re-Tasted: June 2016

Nose: Full, rich and sherried with hints of earth, brine, dusty peat and plenty of leafy Oloroso. Well balanced, with a touch of floral barley and honey which can be discerned amongst the coffee’d prune and walnut.

Palate: A little homogenous and sherry blanketed. Hints of peat and dark chocolate come through along with a touch of spice and bitterness from the oak.

Finish: Long, with a lovely intensity of sherry spices and bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: It’s a pity that the palate didn’t display the balance of the nose. Good, clean sherry though.

 


The Arran ‘St Emilion Finish’ 50%

Tasted: Dec 2008

Very dark in colour and extremely coastal on the nose. Like the 10 year old it is richly honeyed and has a monstrous depth of barley fruit. The wine finish is barley noticeable and maybe adds a slight spicy red fruit note. The palate is gorgeous. Full of dark chocolate laced fruit, sprinkled with milk chocolate buttons. Through this chocolate madness the honeyed barley creeps. The piquant alcohol balances it nicely and stops it becoming cloying. The finish is a bit tannic with oodles of wood cinnamon spices. Superb!

The Arran ‘Madeira Finish’ 50%

Tasted: Dec 2008

Big and buscuity as you would expect on the nose! Again it’s monstrously honeyed, however the honey seems a lot more mature. More coastally than the ‘St Emilion’ with buckets of coffee and dusty spices. The palate pretty much mirrors the nose. Big and biscuity with a lovely creamy quality to the honey and barley. Then suddenly it goes all herbal with rosemary, heather, lavender and thyme – Bizarre! Totally unexpected! Stunning length though, it really lingers for ages. Amazing!

The Arran ‘Madeira Cask Finish’ 50%

Tasted: Sept 2016

A crisp and briny nose which displays oodles of sweet and dusty barley along with hints of dried grape, coffee, hickory, burnt raisins and earth. With time the trademark tropical fruit notes emerge as does some lovely buttery/ creamy oak. Very pleasantly balanced.

The palate is full and barley’d with prominent Madeira notes along with hints of burnt wood, straw, brine and light spice. Lovely intensity with the tropical fruit coming through on the middle and the wood notes becoming quite grippy and spicy. The Madeira returns on the finish along with a touch of brine, earth and straw.

A drop of water brings out some sweet and floral honey and white fruit notes. Dilution also emphasises the American oak and brings out a pure, almond and vanilla note. On the palate the honey is more noticeable along with the fruit as the Madeira influence is lessened. Beautifully juicy now with a little more bitter chocolaty spice and salt in the finish.

The Arran ‘Amarone Cask Finish’ 50%

Tasted: Dec 2010

The nose is fairly light on the finish with it adding a herbal, winey plum and cherry note. Slightly butyric as Amarone finishes have a tendency to be, but it is not overpowering or unpleasant. Underpinning all this is the classicArranhoneyed, cereal, malt. A lovely nose with a good depth and hints of earthy-peat.

The palate is dry, soft and full of gently spiced dried fruit, plums, coffee and wood tannins followed by herbal currants and the honeyed malt and vanilla oak. Like the nose it is not too heavy on the finish and it flows well. Palate cleansing alcohol leads the way into a mouth coating coffee-vanilla finish with a late flourish of peat smoke.

With water more of theArrancharacter comes out as does some delightful orange fruit and buttery American oak. The palate, like the nose displays more American oak (toffee and butter) with the winey notes only coming through at the end. The finish is a touch dusty and tannic now, so I would opt to take this neat.

Arran Amarone Cask Finish 50%

Re-Tasted: Aug 2014

A lovely full nose of pungent, syrup coated red fruit with lightly jammy notes. Hints of violets, crushed granulated sugar are balanced by the fresh coastal notes. The spirity itself is quite malty and pokes its head through the finishing cask allowing a touch of lemon, barley to emerge. With time a light peat note also comes through.

The palate is full and sweetly fruited with plumy red fruit, liquorice, syrup and sweet, woody spices. Like the nose the alcohol, lemon and coastal notes balance the sweetness. Long, malty, juicy, citrusy and smoky red fruit finish. Wow that sweet spice finale is divine. A little heavier on the finish than I remember it, but there’s no butyricity this time!

The Arran ‘Port Cask Finish’ 50%

Tasted: Dec 2010

A dusty, earthy and musty nose of edgy, herbal red fruits. Heavier than the Amarone cask on the finish and to be honest the distillery character is quite swamped. It becomes more perfumed over time but I’m afraid that there is no escaping the pervasive mustiness!

The palate is much the same as the nose and one would have though it had been finished in a musty old Cabernet Saunvignon cask not a Port pipe! The honeyed malt fights back on the middle but it’s fighting a loosing battle. The piquant alcohol only clears the way for another round of fusty, musty old bung cloth and mouldy cork. It’s just like a decaying wine. Sorry but this one is a dud!

The Arran ‘Port Cask Finish’ 50%

Re-Tasted: Dec 2010

At least the nose is not as musty as the previous time I tasted this whisky, although it is a touch butyric. It’s quite earthy with some light herbal-peat notes mingling with the sweet, edgy red fruit. There are hints of cereal spirit and rose petal marc notes coming through which would indicate some young spirit at work.

The palate is a bit on the raw side with some earthy-peat and lightly syrup coated red fruit. Very edgy on the middle with the bitter tannins building. The alcohol masks the finish.

With water the nose becomes very herbal with an almost juniper-like botanical note. Maybe a little more of the coffee/ chocolate? The palate has become sweeter and fruitier now that the rampaging tannins have softened. More complex now with hints of buttery vanilla and a touch of sweet spice. Dilution has lengthened it, but the finish is still quite dry and bitter. In conclusion it’s not an easy malt to love!

Arran Port Cask Finish 50%

Re-Tasted: Aug 2014

The nose is pretty heavy on the port with huge dollops of winey black cherry and blackcurrant spangles. Very intense and lightly syrupy with a touch of burnt biscuit and herbal marc-like note which would indicate quite youthful spirit. No shrinking violet this.

The palate opens with a touch of burnt caramel and lightly winey fruit. The caramel is definitely dampening the palate. Slightly syrupy on the middle with again plenty of herbal marc-like notes. A little hot and unruly on the finish with cherry drops and mouth puckering tannins/ alcohol.

Arran Sauternes Cask Finish 50%

Tasted: Aug 2014

The nose is gristy and earthy with a youthful oiliness. Fishy, coastal peat aromas mingle with hints of honey, lightly toasted toffee and herbal biscuits. I was expecting a little more sweetness from the Sauternes cask but the nose is more focused on the edgy, peated spirit.

The palate opens with large dollops of toffee and dark-ish honey. Hints of earthy-peat and oily, youthful notes follow. Quite herbal on the middle but the Sauternes adds just enough sweetness to stop it being too austere. Very fishy finish with hints of crystallised violets and sweet-ish spices which really take your breath away.

 


Arran ‘The Devils Punch Bowl’ 52.3%

A vatting of various casks from 1996-2006/ Btl: 2012/ Tasted: July 2012

The slightly astringent, herbal but earthy peat shows first followed by some juicy tropical fruit and fleshy banana, kiwi and greengage. The sherry casks add some slightly balsamic notes and the whole feels is quite gritty and edgy (a bit more Clint Eastwood, to the 12 year olds say Carry Grant!), with plenty of salinity and grist. Finally some lightly sawdusty, maturing American oak appears along with a slightly perfumed top note. It’s Arran in a more rugged guise!

The palate is relatively soft and slightly gristy, opening with the barley, edgy tropical fruit – banana, apricot, melon and the creamy American oak. The alcohol builds on the middle as do the spices and a touch of earthy peat. Quite a crisp finish with the piquant alcohol giving it a mouth-watering intensity, but the juiciness and sweetness of the malt balances it beautifully. Very long however and quite smoky with a touch of treacle, tannin and tobacco leaf on the finish.

A drop of water makes the nose gristier and younger as the oak recedes. Quite oily with a touch of lanolin, but still wonderfully tropical though. The peat has become gentler and slightly sweeter with a more noticeable smokiness. The green fruit has also become more prominent too. The palate is lighter and creamier with a hint of toffee now. The peat has become just a thin sliver and the gentle sherry arrives on the middle bringing some light spices. Just like the nose, it feels younger now with some oily cereal noticeable but the lovely juicy barley balances. A little bit shorter now as dilution has emphasised the wood more but the sweet, malty notes linger as do the tobacco and earth……………….….. and if the Devil doesn’t like this, well, he has no taste then!

Arran ‘The Devils Punchbowl Chapter II – Angels & Devils’ 53.1%

17 sherry casks, 6 unpeated bourbon casks and 4 peated bourbon casks ranging from 1997 to 2004.

Tasted: Sept 2013

Initially the aromas are quite phenolic and heavily peated with medicinal herbal, bog myrtle notes, followed by some sumptuous dried sherry fruits, crystallised orange and spices along with hints of honey and Madeira cake. Finally some clean American oak vanillins purposefully stride in. Beautifully balanced and complex. With time hints of earth appear and the herbal notes take on a light nuttiness as the sherry notes become lightly perfumed.

The palate opens with the sherried prunes, dates, sultana and walnut along with some Satsuma and tangerine. Next comes some earthy-peat, malt and  creamy oak vanillins. Quite herbal and piquant on the middle with the dried fruit, oak and costal notes coming in waves. The finish is very fresh and dry given the combination of alcohol, salt and some dusty, lightly coffee’d tannins, but there’s a pleasant mouth-watering citrus twist to the finish. In conclusion I think this is even better than the first bottling, – less rugged and a little more polished……………And the sherry component is as clean as a whistle!

Arran Devils Punch Bowl Chapter III – The Fiendish Finale 53.4%

Selection of Oloroso Sherry Butts, American oak and French oak

Tasted: Aug 2014

The nose opens softly tropical – hints of lime, kiwi, apricot along with some slightly gristy barley, edgy, spicy French oak and toffee’s American oak. The sherry adds a touch of dried sultana and dusty spice in the background. A touch of vegetal peat and coffee emerges and the peat becomes a little more pronounced with time, but not a pronounced as in the chapter II . With time hints of green apple and lightly nutty sherry notes emerge. A wonderfully complex nose.

The palate opens with some cola coated dark fruit, earth and treacle. The Oloroso sherry is definitely in the ascendancy. However flecks of crunchy barley can be discerned along with dry, herbal peat and warming spice notes. Very salty on the middle with a dry, fishy and salty finish. The alcohol does mask a little, so a little water is probably needed. Not quite as polished as Chapter II as the French oak adds a slight gritty tannin character, but it’s very distinctive and rather enjoyable.

A drop of water emphasises the perfumed barley, apricot and honey. It also emphasises the American oak and brings out a light castor sugar coating to the fruit. On the palate it again emphasises the American oak as a little more toffee and cream soda shows along with some perfumed barley and honey. The peat and sherry has become a whisper but the soft, classic Arran fruit has really fleshed out. Excellent length with a light, herbaly apple note coming through in the finish.

 


The Arran Malt Smugglers Series Vol I ‘The Illicit Stills’ 56.4%

Tasted: Oct 2015

An intense, pungent and herbal accented peat nose with barley, apricot and hints of lime and creamy vanilla. Delicately spiced with an underlying mature spirit and oak note. The costal character is beautifully interwoven and the alcohol seems to intensify the citrus notes. However the depth of slightly honeyed and coffee’d, mature spirit beneath is sublime.

The palate opens with the port sweetness and red fruits, followed by brine, earthy peat, sweet peat, barley, honey and intense, mouth-watering citrus and alcohol. Lightly woody on the middle but the honey and creamy, lightly toffee’d oak counters. Wonderfully long with a herbal and spicy finish and lingering subtle fish oil, white pepper and ginger notes.

Water emphasises the slightly gritty, coffee’d oak tannins and port notes on the nose. The peat is less intense, but sweeter which allows more of the luscious citrus, toffee and fish oils to be discerned. The palate is a little sweeter too with more of an accent on the barley and creamy oak. Fruitier with like the nose, more gritty, coffee’d tannins. Quite costal on the middle now with a gorgeously fruity finish with very noticeable ginger notes.

 


Arran Machrie Moor ‘3rd Edition’ 46%

Limited edition of 12000 bottles released in 2012

Bourbon/ Tasted: Nov 2012

A nose of sweet barley and vanilla with a lightly astringent, slightly fishy peat note. Quite robust with some fleshy fruit and spice.

The palate is a tad perplexing. It’s quite full but at the same time slightly austere. Quite young with cereal and gentle peat. Quite an intense salty middle which continues through to the finish and in doing so dries the finish out although there is some light peat smoke, earth and minerals in the after-taste.

I don’t normally add water to 46% bottlings but I felt something might happen if I id and the nose becomes a lot younger and oilier with a slight carbolic soap note, and not much peat. The palate becomes even more austere and quite minerally with a pleasant floral middle. Again not much in the way of peat and although it’s still quite salty it’s not as drying and finishes with a touch of cardboard spice. To be honest I’m not convinced by this.

Arran Machrie Moor 6th Edition 46%

Btl: 2015/ Tasted: Dec 2015

Young and oily aromas of birch sap and woody peat with hints of lime, barley, acacia, ferns, apple and under-ripe pineapple. Very fresh and briny with developing earthy-peat notes.

The palate is as young and fresh as the nose suggests with hints of oak, sweet barley, earthy-peat, citrus and a touch of woody spice. Lightly oiled ‘off the still’ notes come through but the finish is very intense and mouth-watering with plenty of salt, pulped, white, Tequila-esque fruit and a touch of sweet barley. Very coastal after-taste.

Arran Machrie Moor (7th Edition) 46%

Tasted: Mar 2017

Floral and heathery aromas with sweet barley and subtle, briny peat. Gently tropical with pineapple, apricot and a touch of lime. Lovely depth with developing peat dust.

The palate opens with the lightly oiled barley, followed by apricot, pineapple and honey. Lightly astringent coastal notes and subtle, coastal enhanced peat come through on the middle. Lovely finish with the salt and citrus building well. Dry finish with lingering dusty peat.

Arran Machrie Moor Cask Strength ‘Batch 2’ 58.2%

Tasted: Dec 2015

A fresh and barley’d nose, opening with a touch of granulated sugar coated, tropical melon, lime and apricot. Not as heavily peated as the 46% bottling but it has some chunky malt, earth and enough sweet peat. Pleasantly aromatic with finally some vanilla oak notes appearing.

The palate is barley’d and earthy with gentle peat and salt. Neat it is quite tight and masked but it has a lovely juicy mouth-watering quality with sweet peat, melon and apricot. The earthy peat returns on the finish along with some loam and malt.

Water brings out a herbal citrus and more of the coffee’d malt and vanilla oak. The peat is very subtle now but the coastal character is more noticeable. The palate is still quite barley’d and like the nose the peat is pretty subtle. Juicy, straw-like fruit and malt come through on the middle with the coastal enhanced citrus. Lovely herbal finish with a touch of sooty peat smoke at the death.

The Arran Machrie Moor Cask Strength (Batch 3) 58.5%

Tasted: Oct 2016

Inense and briny on the nose with an old skool Caol Ila-like coastal freshness. Heavier on the peat than Batch 2 with herbal/ medicinal notes and beneath some lovely sweet barley and a semblance of tropical fruit and earth.

The palate opens with the soft barley and a touch of milky oak. The astringent coastal notes, peat and earthy notes build along with a touch of white chocolate and fleshy fruit. Long, mouth-watering finish with alcohol enhanced saltiness, subtle vanilla and tart, citric fruit.

Water brings out a touch of coffee on the nose along with a hint of cola. Still very earthy and medicinal with a touch of seaweed and the barley showing a definite youthfulness. The palate is oilier and shows more barley, cocoa and sweet honey. Fuller now and a little less medicinal but still long and salty.

 


Arran Robert Burns Malt 43%

The earthy, light peat unfortunately is trying to mask a distinct cardboard note. Yes it hints at some tropical fruit and sweet barley but it’s definitely rough at the edges. Lightly spiced with a touch of sherry sweetness and wood notes.

The palate is soft and a little spirit with earth, dunnage and old wood notes. There is a touch of barley on the middle but it is lacking the trademark exuberant tropical fruit. Feels old and tired with a bitter tannic finish.

Arran Robert Burns Malt 43%

Re-Tasted: Aug 2014

The nose is cleaner than I remember it to be with plenty of crisp, youthful barley, white fruit and a touch of honey. With time a touch of lightly coffee’d peat appears.

The palate is lightly oiled with apricot, honey and crisp barley. Pleasant intensity with a touch of coffee. If I was being critical I would say that it’s a little watery and short, but a there is a marked improvement.

 


The Arran Malt The Bothy ‘Quarter Cask’ 55.7%

First Fill Bourbon, finished for 18 months in American oak quarter casks.

Tasted: Oct 2015

Very heavy on the oak, with the aromas reminding me of a grain whisky. A serious multitude of spicy, herbal dried fruit and grippy, almost French oak tannins. Loads of ‘Bourbony’ oak comes through and the herbal notes become quite rye-like and hints of gooseberry, greengage, lemon biscuits and earthy notes appear.

The palate initially shows the slightly green fruits and herbal notes with hints of tropical apricot and pineapple balancing. The oak begins quite subtly but its building and encroaching pretty fast! Wow, what a middle. Intense alcohol fuelled dried fruit and biting grainy spirit notes and citrus. However the oak and gentle honey is buffering. Long and still very citric with a touch of herbal-peat and fragrant barley coming through to be joined by hints of acacia and violet.

A drop of water makes the nose rounder and softer. There is more vanilla but again the gritty, spicy French-esque tannins counter and the green fruit notes are still there. The palate is like the nose, softer with more vanilla showing. Obviously less intense but the subtler shades of vanilla and toffee have been released – brioche and toasted oak along with some creamy malt and milk chocolate notes.

The Arran The Bothy ‘Quarter Cask’ Batch 2 55.2%

First Fill Bourbon/ American Oak Quarter Cask Finished for a minimum of 18 months

Tasted: Sept 2016

The nose opens with plenty of sweet vanilla oak and sweet barley. The spirit oozes tropical fruit with apricot, melon and white fruit. Some tighter, grainier oak notes appear along with a hint of digestive biscuits, malt, milky coffee and a touch of salt.

The palate also opens with the toasty, nutty oak along with the tighter oak tannins from the quarter casks. Intense and almost grain whisky-like with dried fruit, barley and salt. Not as herbal and citric as batch 1 but still as impressive. Quite a dry finish with the dried fruit and grainy oak notes lingering and a light citrus and sweet barley after-taste.

A drop of water pushes the oak back a little so more of the barley, straw and apricot fruit comes through. The palate is crisper, saltier and more citric as the oak has almost disappeared, however a touch of toffee is still noticeable along with the tighter tannins. Very salty finish now with a light, but grippy spiced finish.

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