Friday, 4 July 2014

Four Arran Whiskies (and 1 New Make) - Tweet Tasting - Review

Those of you who follow me at @Whisky_Belfast will have no doubt noticed, on Monday evening past, my involvement in the latest fantastic tweet tasting to be hosted by Steve Rush from

This was the second tweet tasting to have been held in conjunction with Arran Distillery and having followed the first with envious eyes and salivating taste buds I was eagerly anticipating getting stuck into the 4 generous samples that were kindly provided by Arran themselves.

The moment the samples arrived at my door I was even more excited to see that they were accompanied by a small hessian bag that contained some malted barley, grist and........NEW MAKE!!!!!!!  A real treat indeed.

As I had admitted before, on a review of the Robert Burns Single Malt which can be found by clicking here, I have had very little experience of this distillery but at the same time I felt that the Robert Burns gave a good insight into the potential character of the distillery, hinting at a great spirit being aided by excellent casks.  Surely I wasn't to be disappointed on this evening?  Not a chance.

I shall quickly preview each sample before moving onto tasting notes for each:

Arran - New Make spirit

What else can I say other than this is, obviously, newly distilled spirit which comes in at a whopping 68% ABV.

Nose - Clove rock sweets, sweet malty raisins, rich and sumptuous, some stewed berries and with a little water a more cereal note comes through.

Palate - For the strength on show it is incredibly smooth and rich.  Dark dried fruits and more clove rock sweets dominate.

Finish - Evaporates at light speed off the tongue but is very tasty with sweet red apples.

Arran - 10 year old

Bottled at 46% ABV, without colour and non-chill filtered this is the latest release of their core bottling and is made with a mix of 80% bourbon barrels and 20% sherry hogsheads.

Nose - Lemon biscuits, fresh grassy note, light honey, buttery with mint / menthol through the background. More clove rock sweets that were found on the new make and with this the spirit style is evident here.

Palate - Sweet arrival, vanilla, more zingy lemon and now some orange. Initial warmth dissipates quickly to show some red fruit and red apples. With water the experience becomes sweeter.

Finish - Nice length, fruity, juicy and moreish.

This is a lovely light, fresh, summery whisky and obviously similar to the Robert Burns malt.

Arran - 17 year old

This is the last release in a trilogy counting down to the launch of the 18 year old in 2015.  The oldest official bottling from the distillery at the time of release, this was matured exclusively in ex-sherry hogsheads, bottled at 46% ABV and non-chill filtered with no colour added.

Nose - Tropical, banana on toast, orange, some more grassy elements but now accompanied with some perfume / floral notes.  Honey and mint with gentle pineapple.  The sherry cask has worked wonders with this and with some water an old woodiness appears.

Palate - Sweet red berries, red apple, warming spices, stem ginger, all spice, dark chocolate and stewed orange.  Fruit cake with lashings of butter and with water the spice reduces and the dark dried fruit influence increases.

Finish - Long, lingering, juicy and rich.

Fantastic dram with great range of flavours going on.  The balance between spirit and cask is near perfect.  Here's to the 18 year old when it arrives.

Arran - The Devil's Punchbowl III

In short the Devil's Punchbowl Series is a trilogy which started in summer 2012 and will conclude in 2014.  It is a blend of some of the finest Arran casks with this one having no peat influence but some influence of French barriques.  Bottled at 53.4% ABV, without colour or chill filtration this, last concluding bottle of the trilogy, shall be available very soon.  For a greater insight into this I shall add a link below.

Nose - Earthy and vegetal before sherry notes take over.  Xmas cake, mixed spice, creme brûlée, sweet orange marmalade.  Still tropical with banana and coconut.  Salted caramel and sweet & salted popcorn also make an appearance.

Palate - Intense spice, sweet malt and red fruit.  With water a more exotic waxy feel arrives with peppermint, clove and pepper.

Finish - Long and lip smacking.

To be honest, while this is again an extremely well made whisky, it's not quite my cup of tea.  A wee bit rough around the edges and a touchy spicy but as with all whiskies this may simply be a dram that you need to take your time with as you can still see certain qualities within.

Arran - Miss Black  

Bottled at 51.6% ABV this, distillery only bottling, is now completely sold out with your only chance of getting your hands on this awesome whisky being a constant trawl through the various auction sites out there.  This cask was specially selected by the Arran Distillery visitor centre manager Faye to celebrate her wedding.  Bottled at cask strength this sherry hogshead is just under 17 years old.

Nose - Rich, cocoa, coffee, stewed orange, banana, spicy coffee cake, brown sugar syrup, pineapple chilli jam, slight rubbery note (but not bad at all).  Moves effortlessly into rich red fruits, sweet tobacco / cigar, loads of dried fruit and with water it becomes more exotic with dark chocolate coffee creams......FANTASTIC STUFF!!!!

Palate - Sweet, rich and very, very smooth.  Dusty leather, dark chocolate, woody coffee, dried fruit and red fruit.  Stewed orange, chocolate orange and an amazing balance of sweet fruit and spice.  ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!  

Finish - To be honest this one is a little short compared to the others but I simply do not care.

This is easily one of the best whiskies I have ever tried.  Amazing complexity and balance throughout and one which delivers on nearly every level.  Such a terrible shame it's no more.  I for one shall be keeping an eye on the auction sites.

Well, there you go, that is me now well and truly acquainted with Arran and I have to say, I've been missing out.

Once again a huge thanks to Steve Rush at where anyone can apply to join in the fun of the tweet tastings.  It's a truly great way to experience fantastic whiskies and meet fantastic people.  A huge thanks also to Arran distillery for producing fantastic whisky and being generous enough to share it with us all.

As with all of my updates further, relevant links can be found below.

Until next time,



The Whisky Wire -

The Whisky Wire Twitter -

Arran Whisky -

Arran Whisky - The Devil's Punchbowl -