See this post for more in-depth background on Arran Distillery. Arran is slowly marching towards it’s much anticipated 18 year release. They have just released a 17 year old expression which is a limited release to hold us over until their 18 year bottling. The 17 year old was matured in ex-sherry hogsheads and is a follow up to last years’ 16 year old. There are only 9,000 bottles available worldwide. It’s non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% ABV.
Now that we have all the facts out of the way, I’m going to take some time to talk about why 18 years is significant in the scotch whisky world. Historically distilleries have a portfolio of whisky that includes their 12 year, 18 year and 25 year expressions. There really isn’t any golden rule that whisky aged to those specific years are ripe for consumption. Some distiller back in the day probably arbitrarily decided that their whisky displayed notable differences from 12 years to 18 and then on to 25. Since then many other distilleries have followed suit and thus a standard was born out of happenstance. The truth is that not every whisky is made equal and some juice may test better at 9 years of maturation versus 12 years. Nevertheless, given the historic ‘standard range’ it’s an important milestone for Arran to have an 18 year bottling in their portfolio.
Nose: strawberry jam, grapes, cherries, red apples, orange peel, honey
Mouth: full bodied, apricots, cinnamon, sweet spices, herbal tea, green apples, light sherry, cloves
Finish: red fruit sweetness, lingering warm spices, toffee, aniseed
Verdict: This is a very fruity whisky from the get-go. The nose if very forward with strawberry jam, cherries, red apples and orange peels. There’s some honey and cinnamon hiding underneath the fruit basket. On the palate this whisky is surprisingly herbal with apricots, cinnamon, cloves and some light sherry sweetness. The sherry works well with the fruit here and there’s a good balance between green fruits (green apple, pear) and red fruits. The oak spices give this whisky a nice kick and linger well into the finish. There’s a distinct aniseed note on the finish followed by red fruit sweetness and a touch of toffee. Arran is keeping the consumers happy with this 17 year old limited release which will have to suffice until they hit 18 years. The release of the Arran 18 will be a monumental step in the distillery’s history. Expect big things from the Isle of Arran.