...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Single Malt Report: Arran 14 year old (old label)

You'll have to pardon the official bottle shots over the next
couple of weeks. My parent brain (or my apparent brain?)
neglected to take bottle/sample photos for some of these.
DistilleryIsle of Arran Distillery
Type: Single Malt
Ownership: Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd.
Age: minimum 14 years
Maturation: 80% first-fill ex-bourbon casks, 20% ex-sherry casks
Region: Isle of Arran, Scotland
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

After last week's extended schpiel about Arran, here's an actual review of my favorite whisky (official or indie) from their distillery.  This version of the 14 year old hit the shelves in 2010 and is currently being phased out for a new (and very good) version.  I received this sample of the old 14 via a swap with smokypeat (thanks!!!), see his review here.

The color is a light gold since the whisky is missing the boatload of e150a that floats in all its orange-brown glory in Oban 14.  The first volley in the nose comes in with charred orange peel, sea air, lemon blossoms, grass, and rye-like baking spice.  There's some nice moderate bourbon cask action going on, wherein the vanilla and caramel work more as a seasoning than as the entree.  After about a half hour of air, the whisky picks up some fresh thyme, ripe peaches, lots of flowers, Underberg, and just a whisper of something industrial.  The palate comes in as a united piece.  Toasty oak, Heath Bar, Werther's Originals, and fruit at the edges (maybe lime and apricot?).  A blend of salt and tart.  Maybe some marzipan.  My notes make it sound sweeter than it actually is because there's still something lean and mean about it.  The finish has long lasting aromatic bitters and tart citrus notes.  There are smaller notes of chocolate malt balls, toffee, and orange candies.

Yep, this stuff still hits the spot.  The expressive nose's quality is just as high as the well textured palate.  It's my favorite Arran.  Some of Arran's previous range of ten to twelve year old single bourbon and sherry casks are also very good, and the official ten year old is always a winner.  As I mentioned last week, the new version of the 14 is very close to the older version, perhaps a little more sherried and still of high quality.

Though winesearcher's price history shows that this hasn't gotten more expensive over time, Arran 14 could be found for $60ish in the LA area 2 or 3 years ago.  $70 isn't a terrible price in this market, but if your neighborhood retailers are selling this for $80-$90, you have my condolences.

For more opinions on the old 14, see the reviews by SmokypeatChemistry of the CocktailLAWS, My Annoying OpinionsWhiskyfun, and Whiskynotes.

Availability - Many specialty liquor retailers
Pricing - $65-$90 in the US, $40(!)-$70 in Europe (with VAT)
Rating - 89