...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Summer Whiskies: Arran 10 year old (new label)

How about a review with a minimum of schpiel this time?  I'll keep it to the following paragraph:

Before finding a bottle of the new labelled version at price that was clearly a retailer's error, I had tried the old Arran 10yo on a few occasions and always liked it.  I continue prefer Arran in the 10-14yo range.  I've had a handful of Arrans older than that and, while none of there were bad, they all either felt muted or the cask tannins had taken over.  While I received confirmation that the recipe for the official 10 and 14 year olds had changed slightly, I don't know (or remember) how the 10 has changed.  Though I do see from my notes that some older casks were mixed in in order keep the whisky close to the old version.  All I can tell you with any confidence is that the new labelled version hit the shelves in 2014 and the whisky within the bottle comes from ex-bourbon and (mostly refill) ex-sherry casks.

I can't seem to find any of my bottle's photos, so here's
one of the glasses from the gift pack. It was utilized
for this review.
DistilleryIsle of Arran Distillery
Type: Single Malt
Ownership: Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd.
Region: Isle of Arran, Scotland
Age: minimum 10 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon and (mostly refill) ex-sherry casks
Bottling code: L11 10 14
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No

Official pic
The nose begins with a big note of hot cereal (think grits or cream of wheat), then that's met with lots of limes (juice and peels).  After a moment it's vanilla fudge, a note that stays for the duration.  Hints of grapefruit, metal, tar, and wet musty peat moss (if that's a thing) appear.  It's light on the oak and bigger on the spirit.  Not a showy bird, this one.  Quiet and confident, if you'll allow.  The palate is really malty, almost chocolate malty.  Then white chocolate, white peppercorns, toffee, and nutty sherry.  A sizable orange peel note appears after a few minutes, and it almost reminds me of Grand Marnier without the sweets.  Light on the vanilla and caramel.  After 30 minutes, there's a graceful balance of flower blossoms and bitterness.  There's a hint of the white chocolate note in the finish, as well as the orange peel.  A little bit of tobacco from the sherry.  A nice fizzy bitterness (Campari and soda?).

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose is very similar.  More lime, no peat.  Lots of cereal, little oak.  Vanilla fudge.  Maybe some ginger ale and rose blossoms.  The palate gets very zesty and peppery with some buttery toffee at the edges.  Lots of barley.  Still has that bright bitterness.  Hints of sherry in the creamy finish, along with a slight mineral note.  It still has that fizzy bitterness.

It's funny, I opened this whisky as my easy drinking summer malt, but I clearly forgot that it can be pretty complex.  It is a good sipper, but it's not a background drink you pour to ignore.  It has some angles to it and can be austere (yes, the 'A' word) at times.  I know that a lot of whisky geeks rave about Benromach as THE under-appreciated 10yo -- and that is a good whisky -- but Arran 10 should be kept in mind as well.  The price range listed below may look a bit high, but Arran 10 year old's average price in the US is equal to Macallan's, $2 lower than Laphroaig's, and $7 lower than Benromach's.  That's the going rate, folks.

Availability - Most liquor specialists
Pricing - $45-$55
Rating - 86