During the summer of last year I took a little long weekend to jump across to the Isle of Arran. Being an ayrshire boy from the west coast of Scotland it was very much a busman’s holiday. I have been to Arran many times but all as a child so this was my first time as an adult and visiting the distillery.
When I do visit a distillery I try to pick up something which I can’t get anywhere else. Living in Scotland we are blessed to have a lot of choice for Scotch whisky at least so invariably I go for a distillery exclusive release if possible. If I am lucky this involves bottling directly from the cask like at Bruichladdich.
Invariably though this isn’t the case and it’s simply a bottle they only sell in their little shop on site. Which was the case with the Arran bottling I picked up and will review today.
The 2017 exclusive was an ex-bourbon cask and was bottled just before its 16th birthday on 5th April 2017. The distillation date for the cask was 17th November 2001 and the cask number it was stored in was 753.
Each bottle contains 700ml of whisky at 51.6% ABV which is natural colour and hasn’t been expensively chill-filtered. My bottle is number 48 from a run of 198 bottles which isn’t very many which might suggest leakage or thirty angels. These bottles were priced at £75 I think which isn’t bad value for the age I would say especially at natural cask strength as well.
Colour – pale yellow
Nose – This is quite fiery and ill tempered but throws our nutmeg, cardamon and barley sugar in an excitable haphazard fashion. There is also the usual bourbon cask notes of honey and vanilla giving the nose an overall sweet bias.
Palate – The wood tannins are more pronounced on the palate and it becomes very sour and bitter brought out from citric note of sharp blood oranges and lemon rinds. More nutmeg notes from the nose persist and malty notes hint at the underlying spirit. The notes are still as volatile and sporadic like the nose though.
Finish – The finish is disappointingly short with more lemon rinds and a heat from peppers and chillis. The finish still bitter from grapefruits and sour with it. However, it can develop over time to bring out a lot of sweet fresh exotic fruit notes and a burnt caramel note.
This one really fights with me and is completely eccentric and wild. Each time I decide this isn’t working for me and I don’t like it I give it one more shot. Which then leads to my teasing out more from it and thinking actually this does have a lot to offer. Of course, me being so lucky the next time I am back to being disappointed. The bottom line is this demands a lot of time and dedication and sometimes you just don’t have the time to devote to it.