Just a couple weeks back I walked the club through a range of ten single cask Arran releases that were all bottled exclusively for Kensington Wine Market. Ten cask strength beauties ranging from seven years to two full decades of age. Nary a bad drop in the lot. I was already a fan of this wee island distillery, but this event cemented things to an even greater degree.
At it’s core it comes down to three basic elements: 1) Arran has a clean and estery base spirit coming off the stills that is cut just right. 2) The brand’s wood policy is excellent. 3) The talents at pulling together barrels for vatting are immense. The sum of these pieces is a beautifully cohesive whole. And what it ultimately leaves us is a rich portfolio of Arran malts that are always fun to sit down to and rarely leave me anything but impressed.
This particular expression just hit our shelves in Calgary a couple weeks back. It’s a ten year old malt, composed as an homage to Master Distiller James MacTaggart, who’s been plying his craft at Arran in this coveted role for…yep…ten years. A nice little tribute to a gent who I understand is an absolute gen of a human. Nice to see these things in our jaded age.
As for the malt…clean and lovely. Broadly appealing, I’d imagine and infinitely drinkable. Almost a ‘session malt’ in my humble opinion, if maybe a tad too sweet for my own personal tastes. But, hey…that’s just me. My own personal leanings shouldn’t color what, ultimately, should be as objective a review as we can fathom. The whisky is well-composed and without a trace of off-key notes. Well worth a tip. And the price is right for a cask strength beastie like this: ~$115.
Nose: Clean and custardy. White chocolate and sprinkles of ginger. Poached pear. Orange and cherry. Cinnamon. A slight popcorn note (maybe just the strong influence of ex-bourbon barrels bringing a corn-iness?). Beignets with a dusting of powdered sugar. Toasted oats. White tea. In short…soft fruits and soft white baking aromas.
Palate: Orange. Clean oak notes. A lot of bourbon influence seeping through here. I can only assume some very active barrels in the mix. Plenty of spice. Ginger and chili. Some pepper. Lots of syrupy sweetness. Underripe Bartlett pears on the finish.
Thoughts: Clean and easy-drinking. Uber-sweet. The ice wine of malt whisky (or should that appellation be reserved for Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or?)
– Image & words: Curt