Another huge thank you to Jason at Guid Scotch Drink for the sample.
I grew up in Milwaukee, WI with a great Rowan Tree (Sorbus americana) in our front yard. In many ways, it was the ideal tree for a bunch of suburban boys, fantastic for climbing and each year come summer, fully stocked with ammunition in the form of small, orange, hard berries. Many was the afternoon that we spent whipping berries at each other and unsuspecting cars until one day, we peppered a beat-up, gold Trans Am, who screeched to a halt and unloaded a scary, pissed-off hesher from the South Side. Being the only Rowan Tree on the block, it wasn’t much of a mystery where the berries came from, so we loaded up and prepared to defend our high-ground. Well, either the guy hadn’t figured out that the berries had come from above or he was more concerned about catching the Foghat rock-block on 93 WQFM, so we got off lucky and having (somewhat) learned our lesson, tended not to throw berries at cars anymore, especially ones carrying methed-out-of-their-mind relics of the 70’s.
Maybe the tree protected us more than we knew. The Rowan Tree is revered and loved in cultures around the world. For centuries on the British Isles, people have carried little homemade crosses of Rowan wood to protect them from the devilries of enchantment, evil and witchcraft. Hell, even that Norse god of thunder, Thor, was said to have been saved by a Rowan Tree which plucked him out of a vile, roiling river of the underworld. I mean, if a Rowan tree can do that, surely it can protect a bunch of mildly wayward youth from harm…we were in good hands.
The Rowan Tree 12 Year Old is The Arran Malt’s second essay in its Icons of Arran Series. Unlike the Peacock’s combination of bourbon and sherry casks, the Rowan Tree goes Oloroso all the way, with 10 casks making up the limited edition bottling of 6000.
The Nose: Whoa…deep, rich nose. Big, smooth, melted dark chocolate, with maraschino cherries, raisins, prunes, dried fruit and honey. There are faint notes of vanilla panna cotta and coffee bean as well. A sherried nose to be sure, all rich fruit with just the slightest note of wet hay.
The Palate: Heavy, oily mouthfeel, sweet and honeyed with the dark chocolate continuing and some roasted nuttiness as well. The fruit gently fades as spicier grain and wood notes grow towards the end. Really great combination of drying tannins and mouth-watering acidity. I’d swear that…no…wait…yes…
The Finish: …just the faintest puff of smoke, nice, medium long finish with the tannic spicy-ness growing right up to the end.
Thoughts: Great Stuff, absolutely great stuff. This is a very sweet malt, and while there’s not many overt earthy tones to keep that sweetness in cheque, it manages to balance itself wonderfully and not go over the too-sweet edge. The sherry influence is pretty strong, emphasizing the dried fruit and tannins, but again, doing so in a measured, structured, balanced way. Like the Peacock, this one’s not readily available in the U.S., which of course is a great, great pity…
The Arran Malt, Icons of Arran – The Rowan Tree 12 Year Old, Island – Arran