Arran 1996 (blind)

"This dram from the Isle of Arran offers surprising notes of waxes, metals, salts and others that I did not directly link to this distillery"

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In 1995, the first casks with spirit of the new Arran Distillery in Lochranza were filled. Now in 2018, we see more and more longer matured Arran appearing, including the subject of today’s review, aged for 19-years in a sherry hogshead. This particular version was bottled in 2016 for the 10th anniversary of the Belgian importer, distributor and independent bottler, The Nectar. Originally founded in 2006 to import and share good whisky for Belgium and Luxembourg, they have extended their range nowadays with Armagnac, Cognac, rum, Calvados and other distillates. They also have their own range ‘The Nectar of the Daily Dram’, which contains many high value-for-money bottlings.

Nose

Already at the first sniff, you feel that this must be complex and matured for a considerable number of years, probably in not too active sherry casks. Minerals, slightly coastal, canned peaches, welled raisins, light chocolate cake and a slight waxiness. It almost seems that this got characteristics of multiple different distilleries. It has got red fruits, sun flower oil, walnut paste and an edge of grapefruit. Far in the back are even some tropical fruits (I think I get banana and pineapple). The development is great and shows that we have some properly aged whisky here. A slight sweetness (lemon sweets and lemon merengue) and some tartiness (think of anything lemon, for instance apple pie sprinkled with lots of lemon juice). Just lovely.

Taste

Unsalted nuts, olives, baked apple with cinnamon, and of course lots of sherry. I think it could very well be Oloroso. What is sure is that it integrated very well with the surroundings coming from the spirit. There is some bitterness (in particular grapefruit), some saltiness (salted peanuts) and some oils. Difficult to pin down directly which distillery this is. I think the bitterness is slightly more present on the palate, which makes it a little bit less comfortable for me. I just added a little bit of water, which makes it slightly better, but still quite acidic and bitter. I think I liked the nose just more, not that this is bad, not at all.

Overall

This one was (again) very difficult to associate with a specific distillery. Clynelish, Ben Nevis, or some Lowlander? I went for Longmorn. So when Arran was the answer, many were surprised. Or perhaps not, Arran has become a favourite distillery of many whisky drinkers, also because of their regular release of single cask versions from the distillery. For myself, I can say that I liked this more than the 10- or 14-year-old.

What others thought

Competition day #16

Arran 1996

Whiskybase: 87.89 (38 votes) Contestants: 7.9/10

This sample was part of the

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
55%
Peat/smoke
5%
Nose 87%
Taste 86.5%
Balance 86%
Depth 87%
Finish 86.5%
Score