Arran

Rating: B+
Region: Islands (Arran)
Owner: Isle of Arran Distillers
Founded: 1993

It’s funny to think, that when I started in the industry, back at the turn of the new millennium, Arran was the ‘new kid on the block’. I can’t remember the first bottling of theirs I tasted as those notes have been lost in the mist of time, but I vividly remember that it was exceptionally fruity and tropical, which it still is today, and it was unlike any other whisky I had ever tasted, at the time.

So it’s safe to say that Arran will always have a special place in my heart, and even though they have released a few, less than perfect bottlings, and sometimes their peated spirit can be a little hard work, I still think that they deserve an A grade. If for nothing else than their innovative use of packaging (see The Devils Punchbowl and Illicit Stills releases). Yes, I know, packaging isn’t everything and if the liquid in the bottle is rubbish, then no amount of fancy packaging is going to save it, but the 10 year old has taken the place of the Highland Park 12 year old as the go to whisky at that price point.

However, as you can see their end of term grade is actually a B+. There are two reasons for that. The first is their Port Cask Finish. I just don’t like it. It’s too heavy and swamps the lovely tropical character of the spirit, and as I have often said about spirit with a lovely character, such as Arran – Why ruin it with a heavy handed finish? Secondly I have come across too many sub standard Independent bottlings. Yes, you can argue that is not the fault of the distillery and which ever bottling company shouldn’t bottle it if the cask or casks have become pretty poor, but if it says Arran on the label, then it has to be judged as an Arran. So it is a case of ‘Caveat Emptor’ when choosing an Independent bottling! (But not from here, that is!)
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