Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

Arran: becoming more and more mature

Arran single malt whisky is quite an established name among enthusiasts even though in my mind the distillery is still one of the new kids. But since distillation began in the 1990s we are closing in on 30 years of activity. Not that new anymore, I admit. On my first trip to Islay, one of the friends in our group mapped out a terrific route from Newcastle (port of entry) towards Port Ellen. It took us past the Bladnoch Distillery, and then onwards to the Isle of Arran. Needless to say, the island took our breath away!

The distillery itself was beautiful to behold as well, even though the output left us underwhelmed. Arran back then already experimented with quite the wine casks, which does not always sit well with malt whisky lovers. I do admit I liked an Amarone finish. Our journey for that day ended at the Lochranza Hotel, which had a considerable whisky menu, including ancient Clynelish from the early 1970s, bottled for the Japanese market.

With Arran, it never became a love story. With so many distilleries in Scotland and the rest of the world, you can’t like them all. Apart from the occasional special bottling done for a festival or so, I hardly ever sample the whisky. Today we try the entry-level expression. Soon we will also give some spotlight to the other (and much newer) distillery on Arran: LAGG

Arran 10 years old, bottled at 46 % abv

Makeup: Non-chill filtered and natural colour is what we can read on the bottle. That’s about it.

General impressions: Very clean and crispy on vanilla and wood smells, but under that apparent layer, there is a slight hint of cherry. Something creamy too and then sunflower oil. The taste is dominated by the wood influences, with a bitter note that I don't really care for. Feels all very balanced but also a bit dull. I am a bit bothered by the overkill of sawdust and pencil shavings. After a while, some banana notes emerge. With water, a little bit of caramel. It plays everything safe, this Arran 10 years old.

Conclusion: Austere and no doubt a people pleaser. A good drop, even a good candidate for the tumbler. The shoulders on which other expressions of Arran stand? I will find out, I'm sure.

Score: 80 points

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