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Friday, July 21, 2023

Arran 21 year old 1996, cask 596 for Spec's

This week's Arran theme has been Single Casks Bottled For Americans! Today's cask was bottled for Texas liquor retail giant, Spec's. Big news for this one: it's from an ex-bourbon barrel! No sherry touched this one! It also rolls in at 48%abv, which is a sign of either cask weirdness or cask awesomeness. Lemme see what the angels left for Texas.

Distillery: Lochranza (the distillery formerly known as Arran)
Ownership: Isle of Arran Distillers
Age: 21 years (24 June 1996 - 7 Feb 2018)
Maturation: bourbon barrel
Cask #: 596
Outturn: 140 bottles
Exclusive to: Spec's
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
(from a bottle split)


Yet another zany nose! At first I get watermelon candy and brown ale, then grapefruit + anise + mint. Finally it eases into Rainier cherries and vanilla beans. The palate starts off very butterscotchy, then shifts to orange candy and caramel. After 30 minutes it descends into flowers and cardboard, remaining hotter than expected. It also finishes a bit hot, and sweet and acidic, with caramel and butterscotch in the distance.

It's youthfully hot, yet also slightly oaky. So, I'll try some water.

DILUTED to ~43%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Though the nose may be more boring, it's also more pulled together with its combo of malt, vanilla, Thai basil, and citronella. Going further down the cask path in the palate. Vanilla up front, bitter oak in the back. Cologne and lime candy. It finishes like a cheap daiquiri slushy, all vanilla, coconut, lime, and sugar.


Again, the palate collapses with a touch of water. Anyway, aside from some of the nose notes, the American oak dominates the whisky. I do enjoy the butterscotch angle, but then it flops into cardboard. Overall, it's a bit of an oddity, especially with the nose's fireworks. With the barrel losing more than 40% of its fluid, and more than 25% of its alcohol, the whisky could have been much worse, but also potentially better. I think the oakiness would appeal to the American palate, or at least the Texan one, so I have no doubt Spec's cleaned their shelves of this one easily.

Availability -
Sold out
Pricing - I think it was around $170ish in 2018
Rating - 81 (neat)