One of Scotland's newest
The Arran distillery is one of the youngest single malt whisky distilleries in Scotland. It was founded by an independent group called the Isle of Arran Distillers Limited in 1993 and production began in 1995. The distillery is located on the isle of Arran, near to the village of Lochranza. It became the first legal distillery on the island since the 1840s. The island lies between the Campbeltown peninsula and the west Lowland coast. Arran is also one of Scotland's smaller distilleries, producing approximately 750,000 litres per year, and they use numerous traditional techniques in their whisky production. Arran's visitor centre is one of Scotland's most visited, despite its relatively remote location.
Details of the whisky
This whisky forms part of a large series of single cask and small batch releases. These involve the whisky being matured in a variety of different casks, including a number of different wine casks like the Sassacaia red wine cask that we have previously reviewed. This innovation and the series of whiskies have been widely acclaimed and this single sherry cask release is no exception. It is one of the older Arran whiskies available - it was distilled in August 1996 and bottled in February 2010 - and there are only 325 bottles. The Sherry Cask is bottled at its cask strength of 57.7% ABV and should cost £40-45 from specialist alcohol suppliers. We thank Selim Toussoun for supplying this sample.
Our tasting notes
The colour of this Arran Single Sherry Cask 1996 is golden with an amber tint and the nose is very promising. There is initial aromas of vanilla and toffee, followed by some soft dried fruits (think of sultanas and apricots) and nuts (imagine hazelnuts and almonds). After a few minutes in the glass, there is also an interesting and slightly bitter edge that comes through - imagine a combination of cereal grains, oak and wood spices (think of cinnamon and nutmeg). The palate is very much a reflection of what is found on the nose - the initial sweetness of toffee and vanilla notes, then the dried fruits and nuts, then spiciness (imagine the cinnamon and nutmeg, adding in a hint of ginger). However, it does become very spicy with the ginger note increasing, along with the heat from the high strength of alcohol. The finish is long, sumptuous and spicy, although it does again begin with the sweet toffee/vanilla notes before the spiciness (especially the ginger and nutmeg) and a pleasant dryness kick in.
What's the verdict?
This whisky is another great example of how Arran whiskies are coming of age. Each time that we sample one of their whiskies, they just seem to get better and better, with more character and complexity. This is lovely and has good balance between the sweetness and the spiciness present. It is also decently priced for a cask strength single cask bottling - snap one up before it runs out!
* Please note - the image used is taken via Google Images