Posts Tagged ‘Arran’

21st Annual Whisky Advocate Award: Highlands and Islands Single Malt Whisky of the Year

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Arran The Devil’s Punchbowl III The Fiendish Finale, 53.4%, $130

John Grant of Glenfarclas distillery once told me that in his opinion no really top-quality single malt whisky had been produced in any Scottish distillery built since the Victorian era. Scanning the list of 20th century distilleries, he may have a point, but if one gives the lie to Grant’s premise, then it is surely Isle of Arran.Arran Devils PunchBowl 3 - Bottle & Box

Established in 1993, Arran has matured as a whisky-making operation as the years have passed, from the slightly panicky, scattergun approach of many cask finishes to the calm, assured, and beautifully made 16 and 17 year old single malts, with an 18 year old not too far from release.

The availability of stocks of maturing spirit in a diverse range of cask types and with a relatively wide age spectrum has allowed master distiller James MacTaggart to offer a number of well-received limited editions, marketed at affordable prices, without age statements.

‘NAS’ whisky at its best can be very good, just as it can sometimes be decidedly mediocre, particularly when the principal purpose is to eke out diminishing aged stocks. However, given a free rein in the Arran warehouses, MacTaggart has proved with his trilogy of Devil’s Punchbowl releases that he has a real mastery over their assemblage.

The third and final expression in Arran’s Devil’s Punchbowl series has been matured in eight oloroso sherry butts, five bourbon barrels, and eight French oak barriques, all of undisclosed vintages. The sherry wood-matured component has gifted this ultimate dram backbone and resonance, with dried fruits and chocolate notes, while bourbon barrels have added a soft vanilla sweetness, and the French barriques provided spicy oak.

Whisky from each cask type at just the right age and in just the right proportion has resulted in a complex and harmonious yet individualistic whole, showcasing Arran at its very best. —Gavin Smith

The Lowlands and Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky of the Year will be revealed tomorrow.

Review: Arran “The Peacock”

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Arran “The Peacock”, 1996 Vintage, 46%, £38
Complex, dynamic, and well-balanced. Honeyed vanilla, bright fruit (lemon, tangerine, nectarine), sultana, green grapes, and banana bread, peppered with ginger and subtle, gripping grape skin. Great mouth-feel (from the oak), which adds another dimension. That’s what 46% and no chill filtering will do for a whisky. One of the better Arran whiskies I’ve tasted. (Released in 2009. Sadly not available in the U.S., but worth finding!)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 87

Review: Three new Arran malt whiskies

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Some of these new single cask Arran Malts are delicious. Here are my reviews of a few recent releases.

The Arran Malt, Single Bourbon Cask, (Cask#1801), 1996 Vintage, 50.5%, $80
Fresh and clean, with notes of vanilla, ripe barley, honey, caramel apple and toasted coconut. Creamy and mouth-coating in texture, leading to a pleasingly dry, spicy oak finish. Very drinkable yet satisfying. Very nice.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 86

The Arran Malt, Single Sherry Cask, (Cask#69), 1998 Vintage, 56.6%, $80
Predominantly fruity—the sherry cask is obvious, but it’s not heavy or dominant. Clean, bright orchard fruit blends in nicely with strawberry rhubarb pie, light toffee, dates, dark chocolate and polished oak. Long, soothing, oily finish. Another solid effort from this young distillery.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 85

The Arran Malt, 12 year old, 46%, $50
Nice to see Arran making it to 12 years old. Creamy on the palate, and soothing in nature, with layers of sweetness (maple and butterscotch syrup, vanilla cream) and fruit (caramel apple, fried banana). Soft, congenial finish. A low-level, yet persistent nutty/burnt rubber note detracts from what would otherwise be a very fun, pleasantly sweet whisky. (Note: at the time of publication, the whisky was not yet available in the U.S. Price above is UK price in pounds, converted to dollars).

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 77