Origin: Isle of Arran (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Added coloring: No
Owner: Lochranza Distillery
Official website: www.arranwhisky.com
After some time, we return to the island of Arran with a double review: two whiskies aged respectively in ex-Madeira and ex-Marsala casks, which share the same production formula (8 years in ex-Bourbon refill casks and an unspecified period of time for the finish), alcohol content (50% ABV), the fact that they are presented in their natural colour and without chillfiltration, and – unfortunately – their now difficult availability on the market. In this sense, the price indication is to be considered purely indicative.
The Arran Malt Madeira Cask Finish
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon refill and ex-Madeira
Average price: € 80.00
This bottling had been added to the distillery’s core range in the summer of 2016, only to be decommissioned a couple of years ago to coincide with the radical restyling of their range.
The colour is a beautiful bright gold.
On the nose, the first impressions are of fruit: ripe apricot, strawberry but above all orange zest, with a surprising balsamic accent due to eucalyptus and a floral freshness in the background. As the tasting proceeds, alongside a spicy hint of cloves we perceive a distant note of vanilla and, more distinctly, hints of shortbread and butter biscuits. A sprinkling of ginger embellishes the whole.
The mouthfeel is lively, with a non-trivial pepperiness. More fruit, with apricot and an orange zest that is much more intense than on the nose. The citrus side is enriched by yellow orange juice, while aromas of shortcrust pastry and custard make one think of a tart ready to be served.
The medium-long finish sees orange zest again in the front row, this time in the company of mandarin marmalade, with a sprinkling of pepper and distant echoes of vanilla.
The ex-Madeira casks have worked above all on the fruity dimension of Arran whisky, accentuating its citrus component. Accomplice to the alcohol content, the result resembles, in some ways, an upbeat Glenmorangie. Which to us is definitely a compliment.
The Arran Malt Marsala Cask Finish
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbonrefill and ex-Marsala
Average price: € 90.00
This bottling, on the other hand, is a special 2018 edition and, as a limited edition, even harder to find.
The colour is light amber.
On the nose, the very first note is of marsala, followed by shortcrust pastry, custard, milk chocolate, hazelnut, orange blossom and a surprising cyclamen. A hint of apple cider vinegar emerges at a distance. Here too, the alcohol content perfectly supports, if not enhances, the different perceptions.
On the palate, the usual peppery opening leads to a delightful series of variations on the creamy theme, with custard and toffee at the forefront, a caress of yellow orange and a slight hint of wood.
The medium-long, moderately peppery finish is again dominated by cream nuances.
In this case, the casks of the popular Sicilian fortified wine especially tease out the creamy side of the Arran distillate, in a complementary (and unintended) way to the Madeira Cask Finish. To our taste, this is a slightly less expressive whisky, but still a great drink.