...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Arran 25 year old, 2020 release

OMG, there's an Arran 25 year old! Etc., etc., etc. Apparently I have turned into that person already. I frequently get the sort of "Wow, he's graduating high school? I remember his bris," thoughts all the time. Or maybe I remember brit milahs really well. I mean I've only been to four, so maybe I'm remembering snippings I didn't even attend. And why are you insisting that I talk about circumcised penises?

For those of us who haven't been paying attention, Isle of Arran Distillery was renamed Lochranza Distillery right around the time the owners opened a second Arran Distillery, Lagg, in 2019. To mark the new distillery's arrival and older distillery's name change, the Arran Single Malt range received a reboot. All new packaging (that still says Arran Arran Arran Arran Arran) appeared, the 14yo (my favorite official bottling) was dismissed, and a whole bunch of new NAS releases (what is this, 2015?) materialized.

Lochranza (neé Arran) began distillation in August 1995, and to my geeky pleasure the producers saved some of those early casks for today's 25 year old, which was released in October 2020 with the classic Arran presentation of 46%/NC/NCF. This almost makes up for my gripes above.

Distillery: Lochranza (the distillery formerly known as Arran)
Ownership: Isle of Arran Distillers
Age: 25 years (1995-2020)
Maturation: 65% bourbon casks / 35% sherry casks
Outturn: 3,000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins with a mix of almonds, walnuts, honey, clay and plums, in that order. With time, it gains hints of barley(!) and guava. It has the musty heft of something even older about it, though that's statistically impossible for this distillery. Reduced to 40%abv, it keeps that same combo of almonds, walnuts, honey, clay and plums, while adding in some golden raisins.

The palate has a dry, nutty sherry style. No prunes or black raisins. Almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts take the lead, with smaller notes of honey, oranges and salt in the background. It picks up a good fresh blueberry note with time, and keeps an oily mouthfeel throughout. Once diluted to 40%abv, it keeps a similar style, though it gets toastier. Toasty nuts, toasty oak spices and toasty barley. A few fresh cherries and dried apricots show up in the background. It's neither sweet nor bitter.

It finishes with almonds, walnuts and blueberries, with a little bit of tartness around the edges. At 40%abv, the finish matches the palate's toastiness.


The retired 14yo was my favorite Arran expression because it balanced the oak and spirit characteristics nearly perfectly. The official 16, 17, and 18, as well the 20+ year old single casks all read too oaky for my palate. What surprised me about the 25 year old is that, though it feels like a long-aged whisky, the oak never overwhelms the recipe, as if these casks had a gentler spot in the Arran warehouse. Perhaps the bourbon casks were refills or hoggies, and/or the sherry casks had a subtler toast to them. As a result, it succeeds where the others could not. I don't know if it overtakes the 14, but I'd be happy to call this my favorite fancy Arran.

Availability - Still available at a few dozen European retailers
Pricing - €300-€500 (quite a range there)
Rating - 88