Kicking off our Arran vertical flight was a 14 year old! Back in 2010 it was released to take a step up from the Arran 10 year and matured primarily in ex-bourbon casks. At the time, it was reasonably accessible in select travel retail around the world. In India, The Vault Fine Spirits brought this particular bottle to Mumbai Duty Free where I was happy to pick it up in 2018.
Prior to trying the official bottling, I had sampled The Whisky Exchange’s 14 year cask strength expression as part of a trio recommended by Sukhinder Singh for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai. That one was intense and flavourful, taking a bit of time to open up to show off its full glory.
Naturally I was very curious to see what this official bottling would bring… we sampled it late January 2021 in two parallel sessions – one virtual and another in person – coming together at the end to contrast and compare our experiences.
I was enjoying life in the country so joined the virtual session… here is what we found…
Arran 14 year 46%
- Nose – Initially a bit musty, malty, vanilla, quite fruity, even a bit tropical with a touch of coconut oil, overall quite refreshing. As it continued to open up, the musty quality disappeared and it was just delightful fruits – some cooked apples, even a bit floral, with lots of lovely toffee
- Palate – Mmmmm… smooth, balanced, and well-rounded with a nice fruity fullness, more of that coconut oil, orange spices, and perhaps some light sherry influences with dried figs or dates
- Finish – Peppery – black peppercorn specifically – initially seemed quite long, but after the next sip didn’t seem to have quite such a long strong staying power – still eminently pleasant though
At first whiff – we knew we were in for something good. And with the first sip? Ahhhhh… finally a proper whisky. For some this was after months… even a year being deprived of a decent dram.
I braved adding some water to see how it shifted the dram dynamic…
- Nose – For me, at least, it brought out a nutty dimension, even some nasturtiums, kept the fruitiness on the nose, including melon!
- Palate – Initially a bit spicier, it retained its character with a malty fruity approach… even creamier and almost reminded me of a good masala chai chased by chocolate
Overall, we found it was an easy happy whisky – well-crafted and friendly. Something refreshing yet satisfying.
Unfortunately, you won’t find the official distillery tasting notes for the 14-year-old any more as they have gone back to having the standard range go from the 10 year old to skip ahead to the 18 year. So I’ll bring to you instead the The Vault tasting notes:
Dried fruits, vanilla and toffee upfront. With a little water, a salty tang appears along with caramelised fruits indicating a depth of flavour. The palate has an initial burst of brine leading onto warming toffee apples and hazlenuts. This is followed by dates, chocolate orange and spiced tea cake. The mouth feel is overwhelmingly rich and weighty.
The bottle had scant additional details – indicating it is from Batch No A14 L271016 From October 2016 – I have no idea if this is simply to keep our friends in customs happy along with the description of ingredients “Matured Potable Alcoholic Distillate, Water.” However it would seem to indicate this expression was from a 2016 batch ie the barrels were laid in 2001 or 2002.
The label did provide notes with:
The Arran 14 year is a smooth and richly rewarding expression of the Arran Malt bursting with character and complexity. The extra years of maturation have added a depth of sweetness, and spice to create a fully rounded and satisfying dram.
Would we agree? Certainly. And did we like it? Absolutely! An undeniably enjoyable dram and a great way to open our tasting trio.
What else did we sample from Arran that particular evening?
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