Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New release - Arran Devil's Punchbowl Chapter II

This whisky is the latest limited edition single malt from the independent and award winning Isle of Arran Distillers. The Devil's Punch Bowl Chapter II follows in the footsteps of the original Devil's Punch Bowl, which was released last year and received much acclaim.  The release is named after a spectacular local geological site on the isle of Arran, which sees a waterfall plunge into a turbulent cauldron shaped pool.  The second expression is subtitled Angels & Devil.

Arran is one of the youngest single malt whisky distilleries in Scotland - production began in 1995 and it has recently celebrated its 18th birthday.. The first single malt whisky released in 1998.  The core range of whiskies is ever expanding and gaining recognition around the globe.. The distillery is located near the village of Lochranza on the isle of Arran, which lies between the Campbeltown peninsula and the west Lowland coast. It became the first legal distillery on the island since the 1840s and is one of Scotland's smaller distilleries with a production capacity of 750,000 litres per year.

In total 27 casks (17 ex-sherry and 10 ex-bourbon casks) have been selected by Master Distiller James MacTaggart and these include some of Arran's oldest peated single malt, which dates back to 2004. These casks have yielded 6,600 bottles.  It has been bottled at the natural cask strength of 53.1% ABV and has a recommended retail price of £72.99.  It has a worldwide release through specialist whisky retailers in key markets including Asia, Canada, Europe, the UK and the USA.  For more information, visit www.arranwhisky.com.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has a welcoming and fresh vibrancy about it. There is a lovely initial combination of honey and green apple aromas, and these are backed up by toffee and some dried fruits (think of sultanas and raisins especially).  The foundation of the nose is built around plenty of malty cereal and earthy tobacco-like aromas.  In addition there are further cinnamon and candied lemon peel aromas detected.

On the palate, it is the candied lemon note that hits first and this is much more prominent than on the nose.  This is accompanied by a mix of warming wood and earthy spices (imagine cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger).  Once the tangy lemon note begins to fade and turn a little more tropical (think of something like dried mango), elements of honey and vanilla fudge begin to come to the fore.  Then come the malty cereal notes from the nose and more wood cinnamon-like spice - this adds a little dryness.  The earthy smokiness lingers away in the background and maintains the vegetal tobacco-like quality as demonstrated on the nose.

The finish is on the short side and begins with the sugary honey, fudge and cereal notes to the fore.  These are soon overtaken by the earthy, smoky and woody spice notes - this makes the whisky grip the taste buds and gives a pleasant dryness.  A late hit of candied lemon finishes things off.

A dash of water helps to soften the whisky.  The lemon note is still prominent but it feels creamier with the variety of notes more integrated. The malted barley cereal and vanilla fudge notes really shine through, while the woody spices and soft subtle smoke are dampened.

What's the verdict?
This is another solid offering from Arran and we like the continued experimentation that the distillery is doing.  The nose is superb and the palate is good, while the finish is a little short and the only disappointment as a result.  The combination of aromas and flavours offers plenty for beginners and experienced whisky drinkers alike.  The way the lemon, wood spice and mild smoky notes sit together is particularly pleasing.  The limited nature of this means that you will have to act quickly if you like the sound of it and fancy buying a bottle.

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