Friday, October 14, 2011
New releases > Arran 12 years old Cask Strength
Arran 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, using as many traditional techniques as possible. The first single malt whisky released in 1998. The distillery is located on the isle of Arran, which lies between the Campbeltown peninsula and the west Lowland coast, near to the village of Lochranza. It became the first legal distillery on the island since the 1840s. Arran is also one of Scotland's smaller distilleries, producing approximately 750,000 litres per year. The visitor centre is one of Scotland's most visited, despite its relatively remote location, due to the island being served by frequent ferries from the west coast and being within relatively easy reach of Glasgow.
Our tasting notes
The colour of this 12 years old Cask Strength is golden amber and the nose is lovely, with many promising aromas combining well. These include an initial sumptuous mix of malted barley, vanilla, golden syrup and juicy sultanas. They are accompanied by a whiff of alcohol vapour which catches in your nostrils. This is not unpleasant and subsides as your senses become used to the strength. Underneath are more subtle aromas of green apple, brown sugar and baking spice. On the palate, this is initially big, intense and hot with the high alcohol prominent. However, like the nose, this settles with time to reveal a decent mixture of characteristics. There are plenty of the golden syrup and juicy sultanas, plus some very green pears (think of pear drop sweets), oat-like cereals, some tangy orange zest and a pinch of cinnamon. When it has mixed with the saliva in your mouth, this whisky feels quite oily and creamy. The finish is bittersweet with notes of burnt brown sugar and dry woody spices prominent.
The high alcohol strength and 'feel' of this whisky suggests the addition of some water. A few drops sees the alcohol less evident on the nose, with more cereals and green apple aromas coming through. The palate is softer with plenty of honey and vanilla backed up by dried fruit and some spiced orange zest. Water definitely helps this whisky, but we recommend trying it without first and making your own mind up.
What's the verdict?
The nose of this whisky is very good and promises much on the palate. The palate is good, but both ourselves and the person we tasted this with agreed that it was not quite as good as the fantastic nose suggested. It is still a good whisky and one which benefits from a few drops of water. Arran are continuing to release some very interesting single malt whiskies and to push boundaries - we look forward to whatever is next on the horizon.