Arran Tweet Tasting

A Quartet of Arran
A Whisky Wire Tweet Tasting

2015-04-10 11.32.49

A package of whisky samples arriving at your doorstep? That can only mean one thing: Tweet Tasting time! Hosted once more by The Whisky Wire and supplied by the generous people of the Isle of Arran Distillery, I was in good company with many familiar faces on the panel. Truly I'm a blessed man.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Whisky Wire, please feel free to visit their site. The concept of their tweet tastings is self-explanatory: get yourself a twitter account, sign up for an event, make sure you are available at the stipulated time and cross your fingers and hope to be selected. All in all it's  a great way to get to expand your own whisky universe and get to know your fellow colleagues from around Europe. So follow Steve @TheWhiskyWire today.

ArranAs for the Arran Distillery, since their foundation back in 1995, they are well on their way to become one of the big names in the industry. As a relative newcomer they can boast a stellar growth path, from obscure newcomer to island whisky powerhouse, that inspired many of the new start-ups. While successfully adapting with the existing styles of scotch whisky, they also snuck in some innovations, as they are on the forefront in experimenting with various wood finishes. And let that coincidentally also be the case with the first whisky from tonight’s line-up.

1. Arran - Sauternes Cask - 50% ABV
2. Arran - 18yo - 46% ABV
3. Arran - Bourbon Cask 1990/2013 (cask #99/103) - 55.3% ABV
4. Arran - 1st White Stag 1997/2014 (hogsh #1997/737) - 54.2% ABV

Just made it home back in time due to an unforeseen union strike, before the start signal at 07h00 pm.
Time to get the glasses ready and enjoy… Looking for the scores? You'll find them below.

 

Arran Sauternes Cask (OB)

Noble Rot

sauternesDescription: Matured in bourbon casks for 8 years and finished in Sauternes casks: a sweet french white wine from the Bordeau area that gets its distinctive taste from noble rot. Bottled at 50% ABV? That's the way I like it.

Nose: as usual for Arran a dual nose: fruity notes (bananas) on one hand, more toffee/carmel scents on the other.

Mouth: at first glance a palate composed of rich bold layers of apricot, with a teaspoon of honey and toffee crumbles. Underneath you'll discover liquorice, a pinch of salt maybe, but mostly spicy elements, with essence of green tea.

Finish: a dry medium-long finish with woody sapidity where the sauternes comes trough.

 

Arran 18yo (OB)

The Scalpel

Arran 18Description: This 18yo is the newest release from Arran, a milestone for the distillery and will become a part of their core range. Matured in ex-sherry hogsheads and bottled at 46%.  

Nose: light styled floral nose with a bouquet of green apples, hay, lemon, toffee and cinnamon. This single malt does not manifestantly bare the characteristics of a sherried nose, but there is a thunderstorm brewing within, some of those geranium/ozon like notes rise from the glass.

Mouth: handles like a scalpel: a very fine cutting palate, featuring notes of citrus tang, sprinkles of cinnamon and crispy cereal.

Finish: long and lingering, slightly waxy with notes of apricot, ginger and a whiff of mint.

 

Arran Bourbon Cask #99/103 (OB)

Lochside beauty

question 4Description: a single cask release of a 13yo Arran (1999/2013), released as a UK -exclusive, matured in a 1st fill bourbon cask (#99/103), bottled at 55.3% ABV. Paler in colour than her sisters .

Nose: an uppercut from this fresh and fruity nose; a water mouthing bouquet of tropical fruits: mango, peach, pineapple, lemon and red apple. Some soft notes of vanilla and whiff of minty pine lingering in the background.

Mouth: a waxy body with a powerful punchy palate of apricots and pink grapefruit, with notes of ginger spice crackling in the backdrop.

Finish: long and lingering, fairlt waxy mouth feel with deep-rooted notes of apricot andginger with a whiff of mint.

 

Arran 1st White Stag bottling (OB)

The Ninja

arran5Description: Matured for 17 years (1997/2014) in a sherry hogshead (#1997/737), bottled at 54.2% ABV.  Nice long legs in the glass, golden hay in colour.

Nose: opens with dry-roasted semonila, soft notes of aniseed, incense, refined vanilla and orange blossoms.
(with water added: brings out the citrus, a bouquet of orange and grapefruit blooms.)

Mouth: light bodied, with little on the palate: slightly bitter notes of orange and dry hay, with soft white pepper spice .

Finish: but then the finish comes rolling in: with an exuberance of orange peel , aniseed and a smidgen of  cloves.
(with water added: more peppery effervesce notes, but little to no adition to the overall flavour.)

 

The Verdict

Well, let's just  start at the beginning.

The Sauternes cask: normally I'm not  a supporter of novelty  finishes, a normal bourbon or sherry cask maturation is sufficient in my opinion. But I'll have to give them credit, it is a most enjoyable dram, that could easily become part of your liquor cabinet.

The 18yo: the keyword here is "refined" I called it the scalpel as it has a very fine cutting palate. However it was not on par with the new next drams. In my opinion is should have been bottled at a higher strength to increase its vigor.

The Bourbon cask: the clear winner of the evening. These single bourbon casks can be true miracle incubators, it tastes so much more mature than its age would suggest and I'm a sucker for the fruity apricot styled bouquets on the palate. It was already said during the tweet tasting by @maltfascination, but I’ll confirm it: "this dram bares close resemblance to the old Lochside whiskies from the early 80's ! ". This was definately one of the best whiskies that I've tried these last few months.

The 1st White Stag bottling: had the unfortunate  position as the last dram of the evening: there was little to no chance that it could outclass the Bourbon cask. But it nonetheless stood its ground. I called it the Ninja as it suddenly sneaks up on its victim: you're a bit underwelmed, when you get to the palate after a great nose, but just when you're about to give up, the thundering finish roles in makes it well worth while.

A great tasting, the people from the  Arran distillery brought out the big guns and we could only surrender to their destructive force. The Bourbon cask was the apex of the evening, only a truly great distillery could make such a dram: you've got my full attention now Arran!

 2015-05-10 11.48.06  2015-05-10 11.47.31  2015-05-10 11.47.54  2015-05-10 11.47.43
Score: 83 Score: 85 Score: 91 Score: 87
Nose:
21
Taste:
21
Finish:
22
Balance:
19
Nose:
20
Taste:
22
Finish:
21
Balance:
22
Nose:
22
Taste:
24
Finish:
23
Balance:
22
Nose:
23
Taste:
19
Finish:
24
Balance:
21

< 75: undrinkable, avoid at all costs
75-79: acceptable, give it a try but don't spend to much money on it
80-84: average, enjoyable whiskies mostly easy sippable entry-level single malt 
85-89: above average drams, often well aged expressions, open your wallet
90-94: excellence, sorry kids no x-mas presents this year, daddy needs this bottle
95-99: divinity, call your bank manager for another mortgage on your house