We are heading back up to Scotland for our next review, back on familiar ground, and heading off once again to the islands. This time to Arran, to the Isle of Arran Distillery, which has been producing some fantastic spirit over the last 20 years or so since it was founded. Today we will be reviewing their 10yo, but hope to be reviewing some of their older expressions soon.
The Arran distillery was built in 1995, and so is relatively young in regards to many in the industry, in the village of Lochranza on the north-western tip of the island. When it was founded there was a lot of speculation as to which style of whisky they would produce, due to its location, would it be smoky, heavy or light. The founder, Harold Currie (formerly of Chivas, and a Speyside distiller) opted for a more Speyside like style of dram – and my goodness does it work. As well as this they have also recently been granted planning permission to build a second distillery, on the southern side of the island, and it is expected that this is where they will distil their peated versions.
As I said, today we will be sampling the 10yo bottling which, like all of their range, is natural colour, Unchillfiltered and bottled at 46% which is very commendable indeed – and how it should be bottled, and as they put it ‘pure by nature’. Anyway, let’s get down to the fun part.
The nose is very reminiscent of a Speyside whisky, and they have done a great job in replicating that style. Lots of fruit upfront on the nose, honey dew melon, stewed apples and nectarines. There’s also a nutty character to this malt, some almonds but mainly coconut, a big coconut character initially on the nose fading into vanilla and caramel. With time, and just a few drops of water, much richer wood spice comes out with more vanilla and nutmeg, as well as pears swimming in a rich, creamy custard.
So soft and creamy on the palate; an absolutely fantastic mouth feel to this whisky, it’s so waxy and thick. Lots of drying malt on the palate, with yet more woody spices, mainly vanilla but also a seasoned woody oak note. There’s also sweet golden syrup and a fizzy citric twist, like tangy orange zest. As the citrus fades pears again come to the fore, and also a slight salty suggestion which rounds off some excellent palate development.
Drying malt, some citrus fruit and a faint briny/salty character on the finish, which is medium to long in length. A lasting finish that is full of flavour, elegant and very rewarding.
I really like the style that they have achieved at the Arran distillery, its sweet and fruity and has a classic island saline note running through it, which complements the fruity flavours very well. For a 10yo malt this whisky has a lot going for it, it’s so characterful and has plenty of depth. I’m really looking forward to cracking open some of their older bottling’s to see how this whisky changes with age, and what flavours develop. For the 10yo bottling that we are trying today I must say that I feel it represents great value for money, coming in at around £35. This dram just oozes quality from start to finish and could easily be enjoyed by the novice or the connoisseur alike, I look forward to getting a few whisky pals round and enjoying the rest of the bottle.