Arran Tweet Tasting

30th June 2014

Time for another Tweet Tasting, through Steve Rush (@thewhiskywire), this time for Arran (@arranwhisky) unfortunately, due to a last minute hitch we were unable to join in with the proceedings on the night, but we have read everything with interest and what a night it appeared to be!  This tasting was a celebration of Arran’s 19th Birthday, so a very, very happy birthday to them indeed.  To read about the tweet tasting use the #ArranWhisky

The Arran distillery opened (officially) in August 1995, however they started production on Thursday 29th June 1995.  They were the first legal distillery on the Island in over 150 years.  Owned by the Isle of Arran Distillers Limited and founded by Harold Currie, a former Director of Chivas.  The distillery is now in private ownership with Euan Mitchell as the Managing director.

Arran now produce Robert Burns Single Malt, 10yo, 14yo, they have a peated expression in the Machrie Moor and a number of different finishes.

Tonight we are tasting; 10yo, 17yo, Miss Black and the third and final in the “Punch Bowl” series, The Devil’s Punch Bowl III and, here’s what Arran have to say about them.

New Make

Arran’s spirit straight from the end of the distillation process and bottled at 68% ABV.  This will then lay to rest in a cask for a minimum period of 3 years.

Ten Year Old

The classic expression of Arran – our fresh and unique island style is captured beautifully in our 10 Year Old Single Malt. First released in 2006, this is the flagship Single Malt of our distillery and one that we were very proud to launch to great acclaim. It is without doubt a ‘must have’ in the collection of all Single Malt Whisky enthusiasts.

Nose :

The initial rush of rich vanilla sweetness gives way to the fruits of slow distillation – kiwi, banana, cantaloupe melon – with just a dusting of cocoa powder. It is undoubtedly complex and yet the aromas are in complete harmony with the malt.

Taste :

Palate: A touch of cinnamon adds a spicy edge to the soft and sweet texture which captivates the palate. The classic Arran citrus notes have rounded with age and reveal new depths of character against a background of sweet oak.

Bottled at 46% ABV and available here from Master of Malt at £29.81

17 Year Old

Arran 17 Year Old is the last release in a trilogy counting down to the launch of the 18 year old in 2015. The oldest official bottling from the distillery at the time of release, this was matured exclusively in ex-sherry hogsheads – sweet spice is abundant here.

Nose :

Rich warm spices with notes of candied citrus peel, tinned mandarins and golden syrup. The classic Arran orchard fruits of red apple are there with a luxurious layer of honey.

Taste :

Plenty of sweet spice with cigar tobacco. A splash of water reveals dark chocolate and orange oil adding depth to this decadent dram.

Bottled at 46% ABV and available here from The Whisky Exchange at £64.45.

Devil’s Punch Bowl III

Arran Devil’s Punch Bowl III: Includes single malt matured in French barriques married with classic Arran style of sherry & bourbon cask malts.  Yet to be released this is the third and final instalment in the hugely popular series.  Non chill filtered and bottled at 53.4% ABV and coming soon to specialist retailers.

Miss Black

This was the third release in a series of Visitors Centre Exclusives, which has since sold out, it was non chill filtered and bottled at 51.6%.  This was so popular that it was released on 17th May 2014 and sold out be 9th June 2014.

You’ve heard it from Arran themselves and now it’s our turn, so sit back, grab a dram, preferably an Arran and enjoy.

Kirsty’s Notes

Arran New Make

Nose:

As expected there’s the ethanol notes, but they are not as strong as I would have thought.  Coming through straight away are crisp apples but these are fleeting, as ripe bananas make themselves known, a further nosing reveals just a hint of creamy wort, followed by melons and a fizz of baking soda.

Palate:

There’s sweet apples as promised on the nose, the banana comes through, but as a freshly baked banana bread, think sourdough and just that touch of almost decaying fruit.  Once the sweetness passes there is a much drier note and a metallic, copper edge, with a surprisingly gentle warmth.  This all but evaporates on the palate but the sweet notes clash off the metallic and leave quite a rich fee in the mouth.

Ten Year Old

Nose:

Arran 10yo
Arran 10yo

Fresh green apples, not surprising considering the new make, but there’s more than just that, some warm pomegranate seeds and a touch of mandarins.  Warm soft grassy notes are present like a lawn that’s just been cut on a very hot day.  The sweet cereal notes are last to come through buttery soft, like an olfactory caress.

Palate:

Soft creamy caramels wrapped in milk chocolate, there’s a touch of honey and just a hint of salt.  Then comes in the fruits, lemon and oranges fighting for position, like a rich cheesecake, the cereal notes of a buttery digestive base, with a hint of mint.  Then things really get interesting the sweetness is still present but in comes some spice, like a medicinal hot toddy, there are cloves and cinnamon which lifts the dram, giving you a kick when you least expected.  The finish is sweet, chocolate dripped orange segments and Brazil nuts.

17 Year Old

Nose:

Fantastic, so many tropical notes it feels like a rum finish!  Fresh, ripe, juicy pineapples with sharp limes cutting through the sweetness, slight hint of orange pith and there’s a touch of aniseed right at the back, and that heady mix of suntan lotion, warm skin and the beach.  A second nosing brings a slight drier edge, with just a touch of musty leaves, before fresh tangy kiwi fruit appears.

Palate:

Slightly at odds with the nose, redcurrants and warm brambles are the first to push to the front, evolving into something richer, dark chocolate with an undercurrent of foam bananas.  Stewed oranges with the smallest hint of ginger, before a sweeter pineapple note finally arrives, not that it hangs about for long.  The oranges are not in a hurry to leave and there is the smallest hint of crumbled autumn leaves and rose water.

Devil’s Punch Bowl III

Nose:

Devils Punch BowI teaser
Devils Punch BowI teaser

First thing I pick up on this, is lots of the New Make shining through, that almost rum like note, heavy on both the bananas and juicy apples.  There’s plenty of spice, fresh ginger and lovely pink peppercorns.  There’s a nod to the cask with a little damp oak and musty lint, wet dog and an intriguing perfumed lychee note and a gentle sherry spice.

Palate:

Lashing of fruity notes in this one.  Starting very tropical with plenty of pineapple, guava and mango.  It’s mouth-watering, and then in come rich dark fruits, plums, damsons, dates, figs, some sharp cranberries near the back of the palate too.  There’s jet black sticky treacle, with almonds and sultana’s and a hot, thick orange marmalade.  There’s plenty of spice too, like a redcurrant and chili jam.   There’s a soft gentle crème anglaise texture, bringing plenty of vanilla and a toffee sweetness which coat the mouth until the very end.

Miss Black’s Bottle

Nose:

Sugar crusted bicycle tyres, coffee, but gentle with lashings of cream, more Tiramisu than in your face espresso.  There’s a hint of buttered toast and some orange sauce.  Demerara sugar and rich fruit cake fed with rum.  Lots of stewed fruits, rhubarb, plums, damsons, mixing with molasses and wild strawberries.  Dark chocolate ganache and fresh cream all wrapped up in a crepe suzette served in a baked pineapple.  As this opens up in the glass there is a perfumed vegetable note, honey drizzled parsnips and baked beetroot.

Palate:

So rich and tangible, coating the mouth effortlessly and bringing with it dark chewy fruits as it does.  There is a lovely dusty note in there, like old books and drying tobacco leaves.  Dark chocolate kisses the palate before baby soft leather and cashmere moves in.  Drying yet sweet, this is an ever evolving dram, with candyfloss sweetness and baked figs, with just a touch of melted camembert.  There’s a slight meatiness with this, like a well-aged beef, before the rubber comes through, but just enough, at no point does it become overpowering as just at the right moment cloves and nutmeg come in.  Just as you think you’ve seen all this dram has to offer in comes the oak itself, bringing a heavy, drying chalkiness, quickly replaced by buttery soft scotch pancakes and buttermilk.

Overall thoughts

What a fantastic assortment of expressions from Arran.  The 10yo is fantastic value for money and has a lovely complexity, the 17yo is wonderful and a fantastic teaser for the 18yo, which if this is teaser is anything to go by, will be a truly fantastic dram which I hope to get a bottle of!  The Devil’s Punch Bowl III is a more than worthy finale to the series, and one I will definitely hope to pick up.  The star of the show for me though has to Miss Black, what a fantastic dram, ever changing and never too overpowering, I cannot tell you how disappointed I am to have not picked up a bottle of this!   I enjoyed the opportunity to taste the new make also and loved the complex flavours.  With products like this Arran are proving that the only way for them is up and that’s great to see!

Stewart’s Notes

Arran New Make

Nose:

Wet varnish, very fruity as you would expect with cloves and pinecones.  Mango chutney and rose petals.

Palate:

Wood burning stove with lots of summer berries with a touch of good quality balsamic vinegar.

Ten Year Old

Nose:

Milk chocolate, wood shavings, coffee and golden syrup nestled amongst boiled milk and overripe plums, with a touch of white grapes at the very end.

Palate:

The milk chocolate and the wood shavings from the nose are still present and are wrapped around an orange coated pine tree.  The coffee is starting to come through with a bit of heat before the whole dram starts to evaporate at the back of your throat before evaporating before you have time to swallow.  Very drying and enjoyable.

17 Year Old

Nose:

Arran 17yo
Arran 17yo

Lemon, lemon, lemon!  Very refreshing, clean and crisp, you can almost smell the sea but without the saltiness that you would expect.  This dies down revealing clotted cream ice cream, with drizzles of melted milk chocolate.  Finally some wood comes through in the form of pencil shavings.

Palate:

The lemon from the nose is still there in abundance with a touch of mint and fennel.  The mint stays the distance and is joined by creamy chocolate, some orange makes a fleeting appearance as well as the odd strawberry.  Very smooth and palatable with an absorbing finish.

Devil’s Punch Bowl III

Nose:

Dark bitter chocolate, horse hair and fresh leather with minty freshness which is almost toothpaste like.  Freshly cut sawdust and blood oranges with a slight hint of banana before the chocolate returns.

Palate:

The palate is quite at odds with the nose, there is some chocolate but not as much as you would expect given the nose.  There is some heat in there from Old Nick himself.  Chives and a touch of wood before oranges give you the last kick.

Miss Black’s Bottle

Nose:

Miss Black's Bottle
Miss Black’s Bottle

Dark chocolate, newly painted park bench with a slight hint of plimsoll on gym floor, fresh sea breeze is there again along with pinecones and freshly printed books.

Palate:

Plenty of scorching bike tyre with lashings of oranges and some cream, mixed with chocolate and a slice of Turkish delight, before finishing into a sublime marrying of leather and oak.

Overall thoughts

An excellent journey through the wares of Arran Distillery, the 17yo is just sublime and I cannot wait to taste the 18yo when it hits the shelves!  The Devil’s Punch Bowl is a worthy addition and is well worth picking up if you are fast.  It’s great to see this distillery going from strength to strength and the whisky reaching maturation, it only seemed like yesterday they were building the distillery.

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