Once upon a time there were apparently several distilleries (or only three?) on the Isle of Arran, naturally these were unofficial away from the taxman’s eagle eyes… fast forward to 2016 when I picked up this mini and The Lochranza distillery was the only one found on the island and one of Scotland’s few independent distilleries. Or so the story goes…
Opened in 1995, there is a growing interest in what Arran is producing. Much of what you may find plays around with different finishes… I spotted a ruby red Amarone wine finish at a Manitoba Liquor Mart and have coveted it ever since! A Port cask finish bottle sat in my whisky cabinet for over a year waiting patiently for an appropriate evening to sample.
In one of those twists, I actually sampled the cask finishes – Port and Amarone – before finally getting around to trying its traditional age statement avatars. Even more amusing is after acquiring this mini, I picked up a full bottle and used it to launch a special vertical tasting after an amazing trip to Lochranza distillery on Isle of Arran! Which has now also been joined by its “cousin” – Lagg distillery – both of which I had the pleasure of visiting late 2020.
So what happened to this mini? Well…. I brought it to our wee country home, together with the last drops of the full bottle and shared with a neighbour one fine evening. It was fascinating to contrast and compare the same vintage…
Here’s what we found…
The Arran 14 year 46%
- Colour – Rich amber gold, a shade darker than the later edition
- Nose – Fruity like the full bottle but a deeper sherry influence, richer darker fruits, nutty, also shifted into sweet cinnamon apple pie, chased by caramel toffee
- Palate – Delicious! Just like its later edition, it was smooth, full and most enjoyable with more of that sherry influence, orange with sweet spices of cinnamon and cloves joined by plump dates and hazelnuts
- Finish – More sweet spices, satisfying
Overall it was simply enjoyable… a perfect sipping dram to sit back and relax, savouring. An absolute treat and cemented yet again how much I enjoy what the Lochranza distillery produces!
Here’s what the Arran folks had to say:
The Arran 14 year-old is an immensely popular part of our core range of Single Malt. It is a perfectly balanced marriage of both first fill Sherry and Bourbon casks and is a righly rewarding Single Malt with depth of character and zest. It captures perfectly all the fresh character of the Arran 10 year-old with an added layer of intensity and fruitiness.
- Nose: Dried fruits, vanilla and toffee up front. With a little water a salty tang appears, with caramelised fruits indicating a depth of flavour to come.
- Palate: An initial burst of brine leads onto warming toffee apples and hazelnuts. This is followed by dates, chocolate orange and spiced tea cake. The mouthfeel is overwhelmingly rich and weighty.
- Finish: A trademark Arran finish with cinnamon spices leading back to where the experience began, with a classic island-style salty wave balancing the sweet fruit of the palate.
This sample was purchased in 2016 from London’s Whisky Exchange together with:
- Glencadam 15 year 46%
- Auchroisk 1996/2014 46% (Gordon & MacPhail)
- Glen Keith 1993/2011 46% (Gordon & MacPhail)
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