So as to keep this post clean and more focused, I will try to do less talking and more reviewing.
There is one thing, however, that I need to point out regarding these two Arrans (as well as say the Devil’s Punch Bowl and more to come):
As you likely know, what’s being reviewed today are really special release whiskies from Arran. In years past, all of the special releases were reserved for the UK and other countries. Basically countries that would accept the standard 70cl (700ml) bottle. The one we here in the US of A will not accept. Here in the US, the 75cl (750ml) bottle is king.
Something happened, however, just over a year ago. Arran changed importers. I’m not really sure who they were with previously but for more than a year now, ImpEx has been importing Arran whiskies.
Disclaimer: It’s no secret that I have a little bit of a relationship with ImpEx. I announced that here. I’m not employed by them but I have poured their stuff before at events and I review the whisky samples they send me (like the ones below). I just wanted to put that out there before I spout on about them more…
ImpEx knows whisky. What’s more is, I think, they have their finger on the pulse of the US market and what the US market wants. The world is becoming a much smaller place, what with things like the interwebs and such and because of this (and other factors, to be sure), American whisky drinkers want what the rest of the world gets. We don’t want to be left out. I know I sure don’t…
This said, ImpEx seems to have made a point of working with Arran to bring in special casks, limited editions, etc… into the US. This is not a simple task as it’s likely easier for Arran to work with the 70cl bottle for these smaller runs/limited editions.
So, kudos to ImpEx for fighting for us American Scotch whisky lovers! Keep up the good work bringing over more limited hooch!
Wow, I carried on way longer than expected. Let’s review, shall we?
Islands region – 51.1%ABV – SherryCask #1979 – $130 (soon to hit US shelves)
On the nose – Chocolate covered espresso beans, heavy wood spice (Cocobolo wood to be specific).
Dark, damp wood shavings and a slight touch of gun powder.
This is a funny and insanely delicious smelling big bear of a whisky.
Some heavy cola notes.
On the mouth – Nose to palate, the same story is delivered. Starting off with the damp, dark wood but right behind it we find the espresso beans and chocolate.
Exotic wood spice becomes quite present.
Drying with leather toward the end as we get to the finish.
Finish – Long, drying with spice and leather strips.
In sum – This 16yo drinks more like a fully realized 25+ year old whisky. A fine choice of cask. Well worth your precious time.
Islands region – 52%ABV – SherryCask #2096 – $130 (soon to hit US shelves)
On the nose – This reeks of what I love about Arran: A forward pungency, bruised apple and a touch of brown spices.
This is a heavy style Ex-Bourbon whisky, not typical of most XB matured whiskies but similar to these XB Arran’s as they get older and older.
There’s something deep, dark and dang in here. I’m thinking fig cakes and more bruised fruit (in the form of strawberries this time).
Strawberry jam over butter cookies.
On the mouth – A bit shy/elusive upon first sip. Not as forceful in flavor as the nose suggested.
Actually, very light in flavor. The nose fooled me.
Initial thoughts: buttered water crackers; baked phyllo dough covered in quite rich butter.
Paraffin wax, light viscosity. Just a touch of sour apple slices.
Finish – Spice, pepper and milk chocolate, medium finish.
In sum – As Arran single casks go, this one delivers like an SOB on the nose. A bit disjointed from the palate but the finish helps to turn things around making the over all experience a fun little ride. I’d say this is an aperitif whisky. Have it on it’s own so that you’re able to experience all it has to offer.
You may enjoy Guid Scotch Drink’s review of the Arran Premium Bourbon Cask
You may also enjoy Guid Scotch Drink’s review of the Arran Premium Sherry Cask
Special thanks to EK, SF and the rest at ImpEx for the samples!