Arranpolcalypse (Part 2)

arran.jpg

This is part 2 of all of the Arran reviews.

However I did something a little silly when choosing. I split the drams down the middle, assuming that all of the below were single (or a few) casks. With the exception of the Arran 21st Anniversary, that’s true, as we don’t know how many casks went into it (we know it’s at least 3).

That’s not the mistake. The mistake is I have little to say about single casks. All of the information is right there, with bold things beside them and organized like you care (I care, because I love what I do, and I respect what I do).

So instead of rambling and trying some “off topic crap”, I’m going to speak to the groups of single casks and how I was feeling as I went into each.


Starting off, I had four different ex-bourbon casks, all chosen by different groups, three of which are 10 years old and one that is 11 years old. On top of that, they were all distilled between 2005 and 2006.

In theory you’d know that these will differ, however have similarities between them.

Going into this, here are my 10,000ft thoughts: First cask isn’t cask strength, however I really enjoyed the OB Arran 10, and this one is first-fill. I have had good and bad from G&M, but I feel it’ll be nice.

Second one is from LCBO, and I heard they didn’t taste the casks, instead asking Arran to pick one out and just bottle it. That’s… Okay, it’s not that I don’t trust Arran, it’s a lack of trying that bugs me. So that one I don’t expect much.

Finally there’s one picked by Keg n Cork. This one interests me the most, because I’ve had a few picks from them before, and enjoyed them quite a bit. Also cask strength, though not first fill. Thus while I’m biased towards it, I’m still putting my money on a first fill cask.

I have no thoughts on the 11 year old except to assume it’ll be better because 11 >10, even though I know that’s silly to think. Oh, and it’s peated. Yeah, that may be why I left it out originally. Whatever.

So let’s see how my per-conceived bullshit thoughts held up, shall we?


arran 10 g&m 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/smoked_herring [+10] for the sample.

Arran 10 2006 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice

Price: Currently not available at the LCBO

Region: Island

Distilled: 2006

Bottled: 2015

Cask Type: First Fill ex-Bourbon casks

Abv: 46%

arran 10 g&m 1.jpeg

Colour: 5Y 9/4

Nose: Canned pear, sweet wine, lemon, ginger syrup, nutmeg, vegetal

Strong nose. Lots of canned pear, lots of sweets. No orange, oddly enough. The ginger I was getting from the Arrans is there, but no orange.

This comes off as an odd Arran due to that.

Taste: Pear, ginger/ginger syrup, caramel, lemon, floral

More pear. Lots of syrup. Like a Chris Rock old bit amount of syrup. Look it up kids, it was a good joke when you were being born.

Yeah, too much ginger here. It’s the main flavour, the others are overshadowed by it. Simple flavours on this one.

Finish: Lime cordial, ginger, lemon, honey

More ginger, but this finish is light. It’s also pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong: I love a ginger tea with honey. The old ladies say I make it quite nice. However I expect more, even based on some of the flavours in the taste and nose.

Conclusion: Nice strong nose. It’s a lot stronger than you’d expect from either a lower abv. whisky or a younger whisky. I’m impressed. Unfortunately the taste and finish are just ginger heavy with some fruit. While I like the pear forward idea, the finish doesn’t back that up and it somewhat falls apart.

I could see this as a daily drinker, but beyond that, not something I’d crave all the time. It’s nice to sip on, otherwise… meh.

75/100


arran 10 lcbo 1.jpg

Thanks to /u/throzen [+44] and /u/xile_ [+55] for this sample.

Arran 10 Private Cask for LCBO

Price: Currently not available at the LCBO anymore

Region: Island

Distilled: 02/09/05

Bottled: 13/01/16

Number of Bottles: 235

Cask Type: ex-Bourbon barrel

Cask Number: 2005/800228

Abv: 55.4%

arran 10 lcbo 2.jpeg

Colour: 5Y 9/6

Nose: Heather, peach candy, honeydew melon, caramel, lime pulp

Grassy nose. More like a highland, though doesn’t have the earth element. It becomes quite fruity, however again that orange note hasn’t developed.

Taste: Lime juice, oak, caramel, ginger, light red berry

Citrus forward. Tart, almost, and the oak is evident. When the ginger starts in, I start getting worried and having flashbacks to the above, however it doesn’t overpower here. More light red berry notes, which is a nice addition.

Not liking the tartness as I drink more. It’s too present and isn’t doing the malt any favours.

Finish: Ginger, vanilla wafer, butter, mushroom/umami, malt

Ginger shows up again, and I’m screaming like Cartman. However it’s not going that route, so I relax.

More vanilla here, however the umami element slaps that down and doesn’t line up too well.

Conclusion: I’m surprised. I hadn’t heard much good from this whisky. And frankly, for a special edition, it’s not thatgreat. However it’s not bad. Or at least is nicely balanced.

It’s quite lime heavy, and that can get old quick. The finish doesn’t really work. However I don’t hate this. Again, it’s there for a daily drinker, and the finish works better than the G&M.

76/100


arran 10 knc 2.jpeg

Thanks to /u/xile_ for this sample.

Arran 10 Private Cask for Keg n Cork

Price: Think it’s sold out

Region: Island

Distilled: 02.09.2005

Bottled: 23.08.2016

Number of bottles: 262

Cask Type: ex-Bourbon barrel

Cask Number: 2005/800195

Abv: 55.9%

arran 10 knc 1.jpeg

Colour: 7.5Y 8/8

Nose: Ginger, fuzzy peach, peach freeze-e, lemon/lime, mace, custard

More ginger. I may end up in an asylum at this rate.

I’m kidding of course, me ending up in an asylum has nothing to do with ginger.

More peach on the nose. Again, I’m surprised at the lack of orange. However I’m liking the evolving sweet peach on the nose. Also the custard notes that pop up are nice.

Taste: Butterscotch, green apple, allspice, cinnamon butter

Good complexity on the taste. Matches the nose on a complexity level, not so much on the same ideas, so that may throw people off. I’m a sucker for autumn spices, so I like it. You may disagree.

Finish: Caramel apple, cinnamon, ginger, heather honey, asparagus, orange bitter

Finish has that sweet/grassy side, some of the autumn flavours, and finally some orange. It also goes a little bitter and vegetal. Which probably is the part I’m not a big fan of. And I could see it turning people away.

Conclusion: So beyond the finish, this is a really solid dram. It punches above it’s age, has an interesting nose, a nice taste (though disjoint from the nose) and a finish that nearly works.

It hit some notes that I really do like. Lots of autumn flavours. And it doesn’t do much I don’t like. So I enjoyed it, and can say there’s much worse out there. So try it.

80/100


arran 11 private peated 2.jpeg

Thanks to /u/LetThereBeR0ck for this sample.

Arran 11 Private Cask Peated

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Island

Distilled: 12/12/05

Bottled: 06/05/13

Number of Bottles: 249

Cask Type: Ex-Bourbon barrel

Cask Number: 2005/160

Abv: 54.6%

arran 11 private peated 1.jpeg

Colour: 7.5Y 9/4

Nose: Sour pear, fireplace, banana candy, mint, graham cracker, grassy

Almost smoky and ashy, but better built up amount of ash. Lots of fruit, some acid, some grass, and some biscuit notes. Interesting note, however I’d be remiss if I didn’t react poorly at first to the overwhelming pear part.

Taste: Brown sugar, brine, ash, canned pear, lemoncello, soft ice cream

Sweeter than the nose. Again, some acid, but it’s mixed with the alcohol quite a bit. The brine and ash pairing is somewhat like two of Captain Planet’s enemies teaming up: One on it’s own can be handled by the team, but two? Takes the powers combined to balance it out.

What I’m saying is they are a little strong. Not my favourite part of the dram.

Finish: Caramel, brine, peat, cinnamon, salami, nutmeg

Lots of caramel and brine, which pairs nicely. Given some time the salt pairs with the meat to give a dried meat/salami vibe. The heat goes in there two. Turns out this one was peated, so yeah, there’s some peat in there.

Conclusion: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s hard to add peat to Arran correctly. They have the brine from Islay, they have a decent malt, and they have okay peat. However there’s something missing. That thing that makes ash okay in Caol Ila, or that thing in Laphroaig that turns brine to iodine, or that bacon note in Ardbeg.

This one does the best of the bunch. Almost. Maybe it needs to be in a different cask. Maybe they need different peat. Maybe I’m full of shit. None the less, this did okay, but those strong ash and brine notes didn’t change like you’d want, so this one is a skip.

78/100


Next two don’t really fit into a “category” per say, which I blame on myself because I bought both of them.

I guess at one point I was kinda trying to do a full vertical, and then ended up with some blanks. I mean, who has ever heard of an Arran 13 year?

Yeah, I just Googled that too… Guess I couldn’t find a sample.

None the less, we can look at these as the “mid-age” Scotches in this group. I’ve stated before I’m not 100% on 14-16 year whiskies. Typically a 15 year whisky isn’t young enough to have those interesting, strong notes that surprise you and not old enough to fuck… I mean, not old enough develop those interesting, extremely complex flavours that are really, really hard to explain.

Let’s see if these two single casks follow that pattern. One was picked by Master of Malt, and the other was picked by Rest & Be Thankful.


arran 15 1999 single cask cask 88 1.jpg

Arran 15 1999 (cask 88) – Single Cask

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Island

Distilled: 19 Jul 1999

Bottled: 16 Feb 2015

Number of Bottles: 204

Cask Type: Ex-Bourbon barrel

Cask Number: 88

Abv: 56.9%

arran 15 1999 single cask cask 88 2.jpeg

Nose: Pineapple cake, caramel, ginger, vanilla milkshake, Xmas spices, plum, mango candy, Orangina

Lots of creamy and fruit notes. I think the main “orange and spice” note that I now associate with Arran is most present here. Lots of developed flavours, with ginger being the main one.

Quite sweet nose. If that’s not your thing, may want to run away. Or avoid the dram. Up to you, really.

Taste: Peach, nutmeg, lemon pudding, grassy, celeriac

Less complex than the nose, however I’m assuming you just take a shot when I say that lately, so perhaps I should go into more detail.

More stone fruit and earth flavours here. Where once was all of Xmas is now just nutmeg. Which may work for you, but I want all of Xmas, dammit.

Finish: Pepper, caramel, orange rind, cloves, butter, peach, popcorn

Finish starts to ramp up slowly to some complexity, however never really gets back to the nose. Nice butter forward given some time, and the spice is still about. Actually makes me want to try out clove and butter popcorn.

You know, while styling my large mustache, listening to my vinyls, and whittling.

That’s sarcasm, if you missed it.

None the less, the orange isn’t too strong, there’s some nice sweetness, and dammit, I love butter.

Conclusion: Quite the nose on this one. And honestly, a large amount of my final score is based on the really good nose. Really this started out like a lot of my higher ranked whiskies, and then… Didn’t really live up for the rest. The taste was nice, but could be replaced by lots of Speysides or Highlands out there.

Finish tries, and has some really nice flavours. However falls short compared to what you were expecting from the nose. Oh well.

81/100


arran 16 1998 (cask 98820) rest & be thankful 2.jpg

Arran 16 1998 (cask 98820) Rest & Be Thankful

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: 29 Jun 1998

Bottled: 23 Feb 2015

Number of Bottles: 281

Cask Type: Ex-Bourbon barrel

Cask Number: 98820

Abv: 56.8%

arran 16 1998 (cask 98820) rest & be thankful 1.jpeg

Colour: 10YR 6/8

Nose: Papaya, cheesecake, orange concentrate, sour cream icing, peach, cherry, white cake

Lots of fruit and cream on the nose. It has that “is this sour or is that just a taste” smell I sometimes get. Lots of orange, lots of different fruits, and way more desserts than the last one.

So wait, the last one wrote this check before…

Taste: Sour cream, butter, orange rind, peach, ginger, cassia buds

Hmm, so it’s not a huge drop like the nose, however it lines up more. It’s like some sort of peach/sour cream topped spice cake. Consistent. It’s missing the more cake-y aspects though.

So more like a pudding with sour cream? I don’t know. Certainly unique, and certainly doesn’t fall down.

Finish: Peach, evergreen, rose water, basil, hot ginger tea, peanut, grenadine

Finish has an interesting herbal/pine element to it. Pairs really well with the peach and adds a new dimension. Without even noticing it, this whisky went from the “slightly complex dessert” nose and is now the “lots of different flavours that work together” dram.

Conclusion: What an odd dram. Without noticing, I really liked this one. I’m not the biggest sour cream fan. However it works here. It’s unique, but still works. Almost like those dessert recipes that call for Mascarpone or sour cream.

The whole thing is filled with fruit, but not overpowering. The finish has this huge herbal blast and a tannic element as well.

If you try this, and I’d recommend you do, really take the time to pick it apart. It needs time. It needs you to ignore the parts you’d normally avoid in a baked good. The more I drink this, the more I enjoy it. Over and over again. I went from saying “Man, I don’t like Sour Cream” to saying “I want more of this”. I don’t get it either.

85/100


Somehow I ended up with two 17 year old Arrans that were done in Sherry Hogsheads. Or at least partially. So we’re now looking at one that was picked out by K&L, and one that is picked out by the Pipehouse. Never heard of Pipehouse? They are a small store in Koblenz that sells tobacco products.

That’s all I could figure out, as I don’t speak German. The barrels weren’t fucked around with at all. The other maybe they did. None the less, let’s see how they stack up.


arran 17 1996 K&L exclusive single sherry hogshead 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/kilrathi for the sample.

Arran 17 1996 K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Hogshead

Price: $109.99 USD at K&L

Region: Island

Distilled: 11.12.1996

Bottled: 05.02.2014

Number of Bottles: 156

Cask Type: Sherry Hogshead

Cask Number: 1996/2011

Abv: 56.1%

arran 17 1996 K&L exclusive single sherry hogshead 1.jpeg

Colour: 7.5YR 3/6

Nose: Hazelnut, cherry, roses, grapefruit, matches, grape pop, nectarine

More nutty nose here. Compared to the last whiskies, which were ex-bourbon (you illiterate bastard why didn’t you read?), this is more fruit. The sherry has really taken over.

Which is what I expect, and I think Arran takes it really nicely. There’s some over-sherried drams that I’ve had tasted more like high proof sherries. This has a floral and stone fruit note that reminds you it’s both a) a whisky and b) Arran. Heck, even the tart grapefruit is quite nice and tells me it’s Arran.

Taste: Peach, cinnamon, brown sugar, alcohol, macadamia nuts, strawberry, croissant

Again, that nice balance between sherry and the Arran malt is what shines here. It does have some burn: However there’s a good amount of butter, nuttiness, and really nice croissant flavours.

You gotta give it time for the croissant. Take it from a fat guy.

Finish: Blondies, lemon-lime soda, arugula, cherry, nougat, spicy peanuts

Keeps up some interesting complexity. It’s quite cherry forward on the finish. Lots of spice and nuts. In my mouth.

Easy joke.

Sweetness dies down near the finish. If this was the flavour profile of either a blondie or a chocolate bar, you’d buy it.

Unless you were allergic to nuts. Then your chances are as dead as your dating life.

Another easy joke.

Conclusion: Nut heavy like those creepy videos you don’t like to admit you’ve watched. Lots of cherries, good balance of the sherry and the base spirit, and it’s consistent. There’s nothing too crazy complex or unique, but overall I enjoyed this one.

They may have wanted to give it a few more months, though I don’t blame them for pulling it now, less they start losing flavours. Heck, for all I know it tasted amazing a few months before and either it lost something or maybe the act of bottling it did something.

None the less, I liked this one. Well balanced. Would pick up a bottle, if you have the chance.

85/100


arran 17 sherry cask pipehouse 2.jpeg

Thanks to /u/shane_il for the sample.

Arran 17 Pipehouse

Price: €35 for 350ml

Region: Island

Distilled: 1996

Cask Types: Sherry Butt & Freshly Emptied Bourbon Cask (not deconstructed, recharred, touched, talked to, etc.)

Abv: 49%

arran 17 sherry cask pipehouse 1.jpeg

Colour: 7.5YR 7/8

Nose: Strawberry syrup, peanut, rhubarb pie, caramel, pretzel bread

Very sweet. The ex-bourbon is fighting with the sherry here, and it’s charitable to say it’s not going to win that fight.

Odd salt notes, lots of sherry, and quite interesting.

Taste: Cinnamon, plum, cranberry sauce, cola, lime rind

If I was drinking this blind, I would assume someone made a Thanksgiving version of Coca-Cola. And then released it. Not as a joke.

It’s quite sweet. Not really balanced. Not really enjoying it.

Finish: Pecan, cranberry bread, wheat, orange, gingerbread

Lots of nuttiness, fruit, and wheat. Nothing else, and it’s still too sweet.

Conclusion: Way too sweet. It takes the usual Arran orange and some spice, and hopes that’ll balance it out. I’m happy they used both sherry and ex-bourbon. I assume this is meant to be drank while having tobacco. I’m not a smoker (of tobacco) so it’s not something I checked.

Honestly it came up short. It’s too sweet, and more sweet, some acid, and needs the brine from the nose. So I guess get the one from the USA and not the one from Germany, this time.

These reviews are so helpful.

78/100


Alright, now we’re really starting to ramp up. Because Arran is a smaller distillery, and because they’ve been around for 21 years now, more and more of the independent bottlers can show up like vultures to dead elephant and feast upon some old meat… er, whisky.

Think I lost some of you there. What I’m saying is they need to make some money being a new distillery, and they now have 18 year whisky that IBs can pick up for cheaper. So we have 5 18 years to see how the picking went.

Who did the picking? Well in this case, the first is from an IB, specifically Douglas Laing. It’s their Old Particular line, which does 48.4% for all 18 and under. It’s also the oldest ex-bourbon we have.

Second one we have Càrn Mòr, the IB that makes you look up how to add in accents in various systems. They are also an IB I have little experience with. Celebration of the cask is their standard cask strength IB line. They have a sherry cask “Black Gold” line as well, but I haven’t run into any of them yet. Especially not down a dark alley, offering to take me to a Jay’s game.

Then we have the first release from the distillery’s own White Stag group. Think Springbank Society and you have what the White Stag is.

Finally the last two casks were both selected by two Alberta stores.

So we have IBs, stores, and the distillery themselves choosing these casks from the various casks. Some of them being the oldest malt, when this came out.

So let’s see who’s pick reigns supreme?


Arran 18 1997 (cask 10840) Old Particular Douglas Laing 1.jpg

Arran 18 1997 (cask 10840) Old Particular Douglas Laing

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: 02.1997

Bottled: 07.2015

Number of Bottles: 252

Cask Type: Refill Hogshead

Cask Number: DL 10840

Abv: 48.4%

Arran 18 1997 (cask 10840) Old Particular Douglas Laing 2.jpeg

Colour: 10YR 7/10

Nose: Canned pears, heather, cherry, grassy, cinnamon raisin bread, caramel

Lots of fruit on the nose. Some good yeast notes, some nice sweetness and molasses/caramel going on. The grassy element adds some nice dimensions to it.

Taste: Red liquorice, cloves, pear, cinnamon, wheat, mushroom

Goes down in some complexity. Initially it hits you with the interesting candy elements, but that fades and leaves you with an earth/cereal/spice thing.

Some connection to the nose. It’s trying, it really is.

Finish: Nutmeg, whole wheat bread, banana, raisin, hot, mushroom, grape

Spice, the yeast is back, but it’s not as complex as the nose. It takes some earth from the taste, which isn’t pairing too well. It’s also quite hot, which isn’t something I like when a dram is around 50%.

Conclusion: I think they must have picked the cask based on the nose and hoped it would all come together after watering it down to 48.4%. While the nose was nice, and I give them credit, this is a good ex-bourbon cask Arran, it just doesn’t follow through all the way.

The taste ends up being earth, spice, and pear. That doesn’t hold up too well. And then the finish tries to do the nose, which I kinda liked, but it was hot and earthy and fell through.

78/100


arran 18 1996 CotC CM 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/WDMC-905 for this sample.

Arran 18 1996 (cask 2135) – Celebration Of The Cask Càrn Mòr

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: 18 Dec 1996

Bottled: 30 Mar 2015

Number of Bottles: 560

Cask Type: Sherry Puncheon

Cask Number: 2135

Abv: 52.6%

arran 18 1996 CotC CM 1.jpeg

Colour: 10YR 6/10

Nose: Strawberry, brown butter/nutty, toffee, raisin, oak, nutmeg, bread-y

The dram here has taken to the sherry well, as it usually does. Lots of caramel like notes, bunch of brown butter, and some of the bread notes from before. It may be taking the sherry too much for some, however I like what it does and don’t feel it’s hit “over-proofed sherry”.

Really has that sherry bomb vibe to it, which I’m liking.

Taste: Cloves, orange, vanilla, raisin, rum sauce, citrus/pear

Goes to more orange and more whisky based, if you’re not a sherry fan. Has a ton of “dark sweets” notes to it. The orange pops up, which adds some nice acidity the nose was missing.

Finish: Anise, caramel, cardamon, nutmeg, cherries jubilee, brown sugar, pecan

Lots of spice, some really nice brandy/cherries notes, more brown sugar, and even some nuttiness. Overall works together, and if you’re a giant sucker for Xmas spices, which this has and then some.

Not to mention the buttery, brown sugar, and pecan kinda reminds me of pecan pie.

Conclusion: Really nice dram. Lots of spices. Really, if you like sherry bombs, this does the best job I’ve had from Arran (so far). The nose almost becomes “over sherried”, the taste works nicely and reminds me of a good rum sauce. The finish was great.

Really good whisky, overall. It keeps some of the nice vanilla notes that you sometimes lose in ex-sherry. Also doesn’t double up on the orange too much, as some of these can.

84/100


Arran White Stag 1st Release 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/UncleBaldric for this sample.

Arran The White Stag First Release

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: 23.05.1997

Bottled: 06.06.2015

Age: 18 years

Number of Bottles: 214

Cask Type: Sherry Hogshead

Cask Number: 1997/737

Abv: 53.6%

Arran White Stag 1st Release 1.jpeg

Colour: 2.5Y 8/8

Nose: Tobacco, biscuit dough, oatmeal cookie, milk chocolate, algae, vanilla fudge, coconut milk, peach

Big nose on this one. Slowly starts with the different brown sugar/dough notes, some spice in the sides. Slowly builds up to more of a fudge and coconut flavour. Really creamy. Lots of sweets.

There’s some off notes (algae, tobacco) that don’t match too well, however those are more to the side.

Taste: Butter, rum sauce, cashew, basil, cinnamon, mango

The first couple drinks make me wonder if this is pure rum sauce. Really thought I was sitting down to a big ole glass of diabetes town.

Eventually it opens up with more nuttiness, some herbal elements, and some spice. When Arran tastes the best, it takes on these tropical notes as time goes on.

Finish: Kola nut, old mango, funk, papaya, brown sugar, cashew butter, cereal

Odd notes. Really good funk. Fruit notes that pair well, the caramel is amped up. Nice buttery, nutty note. Great brown sugar. Sherry works with the whisky here and tastes really nice.

Conclusion: This just keeps giving and giving, and I’m not surprised. The White Stag’s get the pick of the litter, and know what’s going on in all of the different casks.

This has tons of rich, complex flavours. Lots on the nose, and beats out some of the other impressive noses in this mega-review. The taste keeps it up, however if you don’t like rum sauce, may not be for you. Eventually it even opens up more, and has this wonderful tropical flavour.

The finish is funky, odd, unique, and complex. Really is amazing, and I hope someday this is the norm, not an exception for Arran.

86/100


Arran 18 1996 Kensington Wine Mark Cask 2003 2.jpg

Arran 18 1996 Kensington Wine Market Cask 2003

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: 11.12.1996

Bottled: 09.09.2015

Age: 18 years

Number of Bottles: 232

Cask Type: Sherry Hogshead

Cask Number: 2003

Abv: 53.7%

Arran 18 1996 Kensington Wine Mark Cask 2003 1.jpeg

Colour: 2.5Y 6/8

Nose: Cumin, cherry, nutmeg, honeydew melon, orange bitters, oatmeal cookie dough, cinnamon, lime

This has some elements of the White Stag 1st release. Also some elements of typical Arrans, which I’m starting to figure out. The orange is here, the spice is here, and there’s some lime, there too.

Where as other sherry hogshead are sherry bombs, this one is more like the sherry is adding to it, or trying to be complex and not so much “giant fruit bomb”.

Taste: Candied lemon rind, honey, cashew, dates, tea

Sweet, somewhat acidic, and nutty. At first I’m sighing; it comes off as Balvenie, which I like, however not as interesting. Like a young Balvenie.

Then it starts to open up and has these different fruit flavours, lots of tea, and even nuttiness. So give the taste some time here.

Finish: Cashew, honeydew melon, lime honey, cumin, hot, dates, molasses

Again, at first this comes off as a hot, strong young Balvenie. It takes to water nicely. Not a lot, just a little bit and a little bit of time, however given that it opens up to that date/molasses sweet flavour that comes from whatever chemistry causes those to have dark colours due to sweetness.

Conclusion: Interesting dram. Takes to the sherry differently than the last ones. I’d guess it was a second-fill Oloroso or some other second fill one. The whisky ends up leading the way, taking from the sherry nicely.

It’s not going to be like other Arrans that are sherried. If you said it was rum cask, I’d believe you. Good pick, Kensington Wine Market.

83/100


Arran 18 Keg N Cork 1.jpg

Thanks to /u/devoz for this sample.

Arran 18 1996 Keg N Cork Cask 1977

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: 11/12/1996

Bottled: 16/10/2015

Age: 18 years

Number of Bottles: 232

Cask Type: Sherry Hogshead

Cask Number: 1977

Abv: 50.4%

Colour: 2.5Y 6/8

Nose: Popcorn, cola/brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, apple pie, pecan pie

Lots and lots of butter on this one. You can really see some similarities at first here. Somewhat less spice, different baked goods, and more sugar.

No melon, no orange this time. Any fruit is collapsed into the sweets. Quite nice.

Taste: Lemon, cloves, butter, sweet grass, dusty, ginger ale, cheesecake

More acidic than before, the grass element is more at play here. Lots of lighter, white sugar notes. Give this one time as well, because there’s eventually some of that interesting sourness that I had way up above that showed up.

Finish: Brown butter, mineral, peanut/biscuit, lemon pudding, wheat, honey

The finish is where this one lines up to the previous. Again, it’s lighter, however the brown butter and honey notes are reminding me more of it. It’s less hot the the other, and didn’t need the water as much (though water did bring on some of the wheat/honey notes).

Conclusion: So again, we have a different cask then previous. While I’m a big fan of honey notes, I think it didn’t do different things from Balvenie. Which is odd here. It’s grassy, and has moments that push out interesting flavours.

I liked this nose and felt it was a nice, light summer dram. However if I was choosing, I’d choose the White Stag over the lot.

82/100


Three more drams here, now at 19 years old. The oldest in this bunch. At least the oldest age stated ones.

Up first, we have one from Gleann Mór. Gleann Mór makes their own Gin, and also the “Lost Distilleries”, which finds barrels from distilleries that were lost to time. I couldn’t find out what time of cask, however I guess it right off the bat (see below). Hint: It’s red.

Second one is picked out by the Distillery themselves. It’s not part of the White Stag line, however it is selected by the distillery. We have seen what they’ve picked before. Perhaps they picked gold again? Perhaps without the legendary stag, we won’t be let out of Narnia.

Finally we have one more pick from Kensington Wine Market. I enjoyed the last one. Please note that there was a typo on the label, and it’s actually ex-bourbon, thus making it the oldest ex-bourbon of the bunch.

19 is an odd year: Let’s see what it brings with Arran.


arran 19 a rare find gleann mor 2.jpg

Arran 19 1996 A Rare Find Gleann Mór

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: July 1996

Bottled: August 2015

Age: 19 years

Abv: 48.8%

arran 19 a rare find gleann mor 1.jpg

Colour: 5YR 3/4

Nose: Strawberry, ginger, cloves, honeydew melon, cashew, basil, cherry cough syrup

Yeah, it’s a sherry cask. It’s very much a sherry cask.

We see this time that the sherry is taking over the whisky. No orange notes, but some spices that Arran is known for. However you also have the cherry cough syrup note that is very present. Little pops of basil remind you it isn’t a strong sherry.

Taste: Strawberry syrup, pepper, basil, caramel, lemon sorbet, brown sugar

Sherry keeps on coming. It’s like it knew I had just had ones with little sherry influence, and was all like “hold my sherry”. And then takes the sherry back! More caramel here, some heat, and some nice brown sugar notes.

The acid/lemon here is the main star. It’s nice and soft, light, tasty. Not just a blast of lemon, more like something that plays on the tongue.

Finish: Basil, orange, ginger, honeydew melon, pepper, grass, lemon rind, cloves, brown sugar

This is where this dram shines… I guess more. Or rather, if the light lemon sorbet minor note didn’t blow you away (which it won’t, come on), then the finish of multiple fruits, good balance of grass and acid, and even those clove and brown sugar notes will.

Really you drink this for the finish.

Conclusion: The nose is over sherried, the taste is unique, and the finish is what we show up for. It’s nice and strong, has some notes of a sherry bomb, yet is balanced with the natural spirit notes that have brought me through all of these Arrans.

I’d say that this should have had a little less time in a sherry cask. Maybe a few years finished in ex-bourbon could have brought it back. Maybe not. It’s an impressive, if unbalanced dram with a finish that saves it.

83/100


arran distillery exclusive 2016 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/UncleBaldric for this sample.

Arran 19 Distillery Exclusive 2016

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: 14/10/1996

Bottled: 14/01/2016

Age: 19 years

Number of Bottles: 610

Cask Type: Sherry butt

Cask Number: 1609

Abv: 53.7%

arran distillery exclusive 2016 1.jpg

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Swedish berries, blackberry, cloves, cassia buds, honey, grape, cereal

Quite sweet, then sour. It’s odd. The nose starts with some sweet notes, but then isn’t overly sweet. Then it has some spice, however then it isn’t too spicy and that falls off. Eventually you’re left with light sweet, light grape, and cereal. It starts up here, and ends up down here.

That last sentence makes more sense if I could show my hands.

Taste: Cola, brown sugar, macadamia nut, ginger, cherry, lime, water chestnut

Quite sweet and nutty. Better than the taste, this doesn’t just drop off suddenly. Quite strong flavours.

Somewhat reminds me of slush drinks, as it has those typical flavours, but also nuts. So it’s like that time you were at a Sundae bar and chopped ice one and then mixed and matched.

Finish: Almond/marzipan, grape, orange milkshake, peanut, cereal

Creamy, lots of nuts, and any cherry has mixed with both of those things. Actually the finish has that happen twice, as it also has the orange that Arran is known for showing up with the creaminess that this has had.

That said, the cereal note and grape remind me of the nose falling short.

Conclusion: Not a great nose, and the whole thing feels like it was pulled too quickly. Or that it has flavours that aren’t strong enough. It pops with some complexity, however I’d expect more from a 19 year old dram. I think they picked this as a different cask that showed off some of the orange and some of the spice of Arran, but wasn’t so bombastic about it.

I can see why, however wasn’t for me.

81/100


Arran 19 KWM SC 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/devoz for this sample.

Arran 19 1997 Kensington Wine Market Cask 1085

Price: Discontinued

Region: Island

Distilled: 21/07/1997

Bottled: 24/08/2016

Age: 19 years

Number of Bottles: 284

Cask Type: Ex-bourbon hogshead (there is a typo on the label)

Cask Number: 1085

Abv: 51.4%

Arran 19 KWM SC 1.jpg

Colour: 5Y 8/10

Nose: Cherry, strawberry, marzipan, blueberry, chestnuts (roasted), grapes, custard

Nice amount of fruit on the nose, balanced by some nuttiness and some creaminess. So like my Saturdays (and Sundays if you’re cute).

Interesting nose. It’s not very complex, though quite fruit forward. Surprised this is an ex-bourbon cask.

Taste: Sprite-y, grape, caramel, white pepper, hot sauce, mineral water, nutty

Almost young on the taste. If I was handed this blind, I’d guess about 10 years younger. Goes from these different fruits to a lemon/lime sort of quite heat.

I add water, let it sit longer, double check I received the correct sample, however nothing really helps.

Finish: Vegetal, straw, vanilla, banana, cereal, cumin, lemon or lime sorbet

The finish continues some of the youth at first. However, given some time, you can pull out fruit flavours that were on the nose. It has some earth elements which are nice, as well as some cereal.

However you have to really give it more time and more water, as it’s rough.

Conclusion: A nice nose that does some interesting things. I can see picking the cask based on that alone.

The taste is… really rough. I’m not going to lie, I really wanted this to grow in my mouth (again, like Saturday). Wait, that may not mean what I think it means.

I really did want this to have a nice taste. And the finish is much better, though muddled and rough at first. However I really do think this should have been moved to a new cask, given it more time. Or maybe the individual picking this loved the finish and nose, and good on him.

Or maybe the bottle didn’t do it any favours (bottle shock can be a thing). Who knows. For me, it’s a skip, though the score is higher due to a nice nose.

77/100


Arran 21st.jpg

And finally we’re to the only whisky that didn’t properly fit into either group. It’s an OB, made for the 21st Anniversary of Isle of Arran. Yes, it’s Arran 21st Anniversary Edition

We don’t know how many casks went into this. We know it’s at least 3, and the youngest is 19 years old. This is due to the fact it’s made up of whiskies from their first three years in operation. Also these are all ex-Oloroso casks, so they’ve been tasting the same whisky as us and realize that Arran loves sherry.

Oh, if you haven’t figured that out yet: Yeah, Arran needs Sherry, Madeira, or Port Casks. Here’s hoping they know that as well and don’t have too many ex-bourbon casks sitting around.

None the less, it comes in a beautiful case, uses at least 3 casks, and I saved it for the end. So let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Island

Bottled: 2016

Ages: Casks from the first three years they were in operation (so this is 19 years old, with 20 and 21 year old Scotch mixed in)

Number of Bottles: 5988

Cask Type: Three Ex-Oloroso sherry casks

Cask Number: 1085

Abv: 52.6%

Colour: 2.5Y 7/8

Nose: Grape, cloves, strawberry, candied pecans, bumbleberry, grapefruit

Definitely Oloroso casks. Why? Because it says that on the side of the left door. Also because it’s not dark red fruits, but light red fruits. Think strawberries compared to black cherries.

No, it’s not a racial thing. Stop that.

Nice nuttiness, quite sweet, and while it’s quite fruit heavy, the fruit is distinct enough. Again, bias out there: I’m more of a PX fan than a Oloroso fan.

Taste: Caramel, pecan, lemon rind, brine, cinnamon, blackberry, beer nuts

Nice amount of caramel and pecan here. If you’re a fan of pecan pie, this may be your dram. Eventually has some nice brine and acid notes as well, as well as some spice.

It’s nicely balanced, has some interesting flavours. My personal feelings is I wish it was a richer taste, however that’s me being a dick.

Finish: Butter, cloves, peanut/Pad Thai, cinnamon raisin bread, yeasty bread, heather

Ah, there’s more rich flavours. It’s buttery and has a lot of that Pad Thai flavour. Or maybe it’s peanut. I can’t normally have Pad Thai though, so take that with a grain of salt.

Interesting flavours here. It’s quite unique, and I’d have to say that makes the dram. The taste and nose may be found elsewhere in other drams, but this finish is tasty, unique, interesting, and overall a well rounded dram.

Conclusion: The finish. That’s why you drink this, pure and simple. The taste and nose may seem like other drams, and even some others in this very review, however this one takes really nice parts of other finishes and gets it right.

Is it an amazing dram? No, however I think it’s quite a tasty one. But that’s from someone who isn’t a Oloroso cask fan, so really, if you are, this is boner-town or flooded pants city, depending on your biology. Check it out.

84/100

Scotch reviews #650-666, Island reviews #67-83, Whisky Network reviews #1093-1109

1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die review #337 (Arran Premium Cask Selection)

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