The Isle of Arran distillery has always been a popular choice within the group, so we decided is was about time we ran a vertical tasting with a very special dram to start with. Read on to find out more…
We’ve included a couple of Arran malts in past tastings, the Machrie Moor (1st edition) and the Port Cask finish, and both proved to be very popular, especially the cask strength peaty edition. Therefore we thought it was definetly time to run a vertical tasting. In the past I had tried to get the distillery to visit South Wales, but unfortunately they currently don’t have anyone available to run tastings. So I thought I’d contact them and see if they could help me run one for them – and they very kindly agreed! The best part of this was that they sent us a bottle of the new make straight off the still, which was the perfect way to start the evening.
New Make spirit – around 65%?
Crystal clear, unaged and extremely drinkable. I’ve tried a few new makes on tours, but this was one of the smoothest of the ‘raw’ spirits that I’ve ever tried. Sweet, clearly malty but with very little of the mentholy taste of a your spirit. Reduced down to 40-50%, this could easily be drunk as a neat drink over ice.
Robert Burns 43% – £31
As the tastings were around Burns’ night on the 25th of January, this was the obvious place to start with the Burns estate official bottling. I’m curious if this whisky has any chill filtration applied to it, as unlike the rest of the range, it does not stipulate it (it does however mention no colouring). It’s a pleasant whisky, very smooth and easy to drink, but overall the least popular of the evening. Spend the extra couple of quid and get the 10yo!
12 yo – 52.8% – £45
Having tried the whiskies a week before, we took the unusual decision
to try the stronger, cask strength edition before the 46% Ten year. A lot sweeter and fruitier than expected, this dram really opens up and becomes a lot spicier with a touch of water. Also, at £45, it’s a bit of a bargain for a 12yo cask strength.
10 year old – 46% – £32
The second most popular dram of the evening and something I’m sure the majority will look at purchasing in the near future. Extremely well priced and the perfect 1st/2nd dram of the night that’s extremely easy to drink and oozes quality. As a group, Old Pulteney’s 12 year old is our benchmark for the more affordable whiskies and it was a general consensus that this is worth the extra few quid for the Isle of Arran 10 year old. Get a bottle today.
Sauternes Cask Finish – 50% – £41
The clear winner of the night. We tried the Port cask finish at the tasting the previous month and this one is even better. As a NAS, it is obviously a little younger than the previous two, but this is so well complimented by the sweet wine imparting into the spirit that you don’t miss the extra time in the cask at all. We’ve tried all of the cask finishes now and none have disappointed, but this is by far the best of the range.
Machrie Moor (2nd edition) – 58.9% – £50
This is second time we tried this whisky having included it in the Island’s tasting at the end of 2014. The only peated whisky of the night, it packs a punch at first, but has an excellent warming finish. At 20ppm, it’s aimed at peat lovers, but is smokier than a Laphroaig and a lot less medicinal, which is to be expected from a Island rather than Islay peaty whisky. The name actually comes from the stones that were said to the strong enough to hold Fingal’s dog, Bran. So to paraphrase the bottling notes, if you like you’re peaty whiskies and want to try something different, unleash this one soon!
Overall a fantastic evening was had by all and researching the distillery and the island was a fascinating experience. I have not had the chance to visit this distillery, but it will definitely be something that I’ll look to do in the future.
If you’re interested in running a whisky tasting with us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org