...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The mini cluster of Arran single malts begins!

I miss Arran's single malts. The distillery's standard offerings used to be part of my whisky cabinet's regular rotation, but then I moved from California (where Arrans were easy to find) to Ohio (where Arrans don't exist). Then Arran's range was rebooted and my favorite bottling was discontinued. Now I'm down to my final two official bottles, and my last eight samples. It's time to open them all up!

In 1994, a group of investors, including Harold Currie (former Chivas Master Distiller), broke ground on the Isle of Arran's first legal distillery in more than 150 years. Standing on the northern edge of the island, in Lochranza, the facility began distilling unpeated malt spirit the following year, with peated variants following several years later.

When I started reviewing Arrans, the distillery's capacity was 750,000 annual liters. They've since expanded to 1,200,000 liters per annum, the vast majority of which ends up in bottles of single malt. Unpeated spirit production goes for 46 weeks per year, with the peated runs saved for the other six weeks. The new make spirit is not diluted from its 68.5%abv strength when casked and hauled out to the warehouses.

Officially, the distillery's name has been changed to Lochranza because the owners have opened another Arran distillery, named Lagg, on the southern coast, but old habits die hard, so I'll continue to call the original distillery by the "Arran" name throughout this cluster.

Tomorrow, a comparison of two batches of the 10 year old......


1. Arran 10 year old (bottled 2014) - "...the barley stays on top throughout, which is good because the spirit is excellent."
2. Arran 10 year old (bottled 2020) - "...fiercer and sharper, in need of some level of complexity on the palate..."
3. Arran 18 year old (ca. 2020) - "Perhaps Arran's sherry cask management has improved over the years..."
4. Arran 14 year old 2002, private cask 2002/587 - "...LOVE the nose......like the palate......prefer it neat."
5. Arran 16 year old 1997, cask 217 for the USA - "...works much better at full strength, where it's more complex and delicious."
6. Arran 21 year old 1996, cask 596 for Spec's - "I think the oakiness would appeal to the American palate, or at least the Texan one..."
7. Arran 20 year old 1998, cask 82, 20th Anniversary Trilogy for Japan - "...here it is at 20, feeling older than its age, and not in a glamorous way."
8. Arran 24 year old 1996, cask 1996/904 for Nickolls & Perks - "It's the sort of cask-driven winesky......with which I can get on board."
9. Arran 14 year old (bottled 2010) - "...I was worried that this Arran 14 would never live up to my expectations. Yet it does, and more."
10. Arran 14 year old (bottled 2017) - "...warmer and spicier, but the fruits remain, and the wood never takes over."