The Arran Malt 14 Year Old – Review

*Thanks to the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.

The Isle of Arran’s lone distillery, producing the appropriately named The Arran Malt is one of Scotland’s newest distilleries. Founded in 1993 and producing spirit by 1995, Arran the distillery has combined traditional distilling practices, interesting limited edition bottlings outside of its core range, and a knack for attracting lots of visitors to Arran the island. And by “lots” I mean approximately 60,000 a year, which may not seem like a lot if you’re Disney World, but when you’re talking about an island whose total population is just a bit more than 5000 people, that’s a serious number. Indeed, the distillery’s hometown, Lochranza, located on the northern end of the island, has a population of less than 250, so one can well imagine the impact this kind of tourism has had.

This 14 Year Old, released in late 2010 and replacing the 12 Year Old, is the oldest expression in their core range. Two-thirds of the final vatting has been finished in what they call fresh bourbon barrels and one-third in fresh sherry butts for a period of two years before bottling.

The Nose: A bright-ish, yet rounded and smooth nose with caramel apples and toasted grain up front. Ripe cantaloupe, canned stone fruit, and honey follow with hints of French vanilla ice cream and soft clove. Behind that there are subtle notes of oak and sea spray.

The Palate:  A lush, full mouthfeel that gets right to the point with briny, salty sea spray, baked apples, and a nice juicy burst of acidity. Toasted grain and roasted nuts are joined by much more wood influence on the palate than the nose. Hot cinnamon, raw clove and strong tannic notes grow and lead into a lingering, warming finish.

The Finish:  Like I said…lingering, with pleasant oak, warm cinnamon, and that continued, terroir-ish salinity.

Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this one. While the nose and palate initially seem a little at odds, it takes just a couple of sips to recognize the nice balance and progression of this one. That caramelized apple quality and brine anchor it throughout with the growing spice notes adding a rugged complexity as it moves along. This could easily be a wonderful everyday dram, but at around $70-$75, that could get pricey. On the other hand, I think this definitely holds its own against other mid to late teen single malts which makes that $70-$75 seem like more of a good value. Definitely recommended.

The Arran Malt 14 Year Old, Island, Arran

46% ABV

Score: 86


One thought on “The Arran Malt 14 Year Old – Review

  1. As a recipient of your thoroughly enjoyable The Casks, I thought you might like to know whats happening up here in Montreal. The St. Andrews Society here will be hosting a Whisky Tasting (Whisky Fte 2013) on Friday, February 22, 2013 at the University Club of Montreal. The ambience is old-world, wood panelling, fireplaces (burning peat, of course!), ramped-up Highland Foods (the original Food-Pairing) and a stellar list of whiskies on offer. With but a few exceptions (due to their rarity), nothing younger than 18-year olds, some single casks and some Silent Stills, never to be tasted again. Already purchased: Highland Park 30 y.o., very rare; G&M Aberfeldy 1991; Auchroisk 1994; Bladnoch 1993; Creigellachie 1991; Glenlossie 1982; Ledaig 1993; Linkwood 1991; Mannochmore 1991; Tamnavulin, 1991; Glenmorangie Signet (16-20y.o.), Rare Artisanal Whisky; Glengoyne 21 y.o.; Glenfarclas 40 y.o.; Glenfarclas 25 y.o.; Brora 30 y.o.well, you get the picture.

    And yes, this is a fund-raiser with proceeds going toward a new Chair for Scottish Studies at McGill University. No Cigar Room but there will be a Snuff Room, complete with ceremonial Rams Head Snuff boxes from the Black Watch Officers Mess and a Snuff Expert on hand to explain the taking of Snuff. Price for this first year is $325 Canadian and, as tickets are limited to 200 guests, it is advisable to purchase tickets as soon as possible.

    Those of us working on the event are watching the list of Scotches with delight and wonder: Brian McQueenie is responsible for the choosing and securing of the whiskies and, as an added plus, the water on hand will be authenticimported from Scotland.

    In the hopes that you will find this to be of interest,

    Best regards,

    P. M. Regan, Montreal.


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