Not too long ago Arran seemed like the new kid on the block. With the exception of Kilchoman, it had been one of the only truly new distilleries in Scotland for quite some time until the spate of new construction during the last decade. This spirit was distilled within a few years of their founding, which also happens to be the era when many of the single casks in my cabinet were distilled. So I was pretty happy to find this bottle for what was something of a bargain price at Clearview Spirits & Wines not long after Washington privatized their liquor system. Miraculously they also offered shipping to Oregon, which saved me a fairly long drive.
This whisky was distilled in 1998, filled into 'oak casks' (probably refill ex-bourbon casks, but maybe tired sherry casks), then bottled in 2007 at 46% without coloring or chill filtration.
G&M Connoisseurs Choice Arran 8 Year 1998/2007
Nose: very malty, a little caramel/toffee, vanilla, light oak, earthy/herbal, a little new make, vague floral notes. After adding a few drops of water the floral notes are amplified and become more perfume-y, while the new make notes turn into green fruits (apples/pears).
Taste: opens with balanced malt and cask sweetness with light berries, creamy citrus peel (orange?) starting right behind, fading through some light floral malt near the middle, then very light oak tannins going into the finish. After dilution the sweetness is amplified and carries further back, the oak becomes almost sherried in the middle, and there's a sort of funky floral/herbal/malty note at the back.
Finish: a little hot, fresh malt, caramel, gently herbal
While not a stunner, I've found this to be a rather pleasant malt. The casks weren't exceptional, but the quality of the spirit still manages to shine through. If you're not already a fan of Arran I'm not sure this has a ton to offer you, but it's a pleasant reminder for me of how much I enjoy what they've been putting out.
As with many other bourbon cask Arrans, I also found it to be a solid platform for blending. A little sherry cask malt smooths out its rougher edges, while peat takes it in a more herbal direction. Or you can do both, like I've found adding Benromach 10 Year to it.
Overall it's not worth being sad if you missed out on this particular bottle. There are plenty of other ways to get your hands on younger bourbon cask Arran, though that is more challenging if you'd like to try something from their earlier years of production. But I've found Arrans to be pretty consistent, so my guess is that their current output will be as good or better.
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