Tag Archive: Isle Of Arran


independent-spirit-arran

Independent Spirit: Arran (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 17 Years: 58.7% ABV)

Visual: Quite light grain to gold.

Viscosity: Generally slow thin puckering, with a few fast streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Alcohol jelly. Lime. Salted caramel and apple. Water brings out more caramel, a touch of milky coffee. More water adds floral notes.

Body: Alcohol touched. Salted toffee. Moderate oak. Salted caramel. Water adds apples and makes smoother. Much more salted caramel. More water adds more apples and pears. Light cinnamon. Creamy notes and some lemon curd.

Finish: Charred oak. Apples. Alcohol. Toffee malt drinks. Drying. Water adds salted toffee. More water adds lemon curd and light milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, this has a lot of water room to it. Like a proper serious amount. Not entirely unexpected at best part of 60% abv, but what does stand out is that it is actually pretty approachable even when neat; Which means that you have more room for quality water play as you don’t have to add a ton just to get it to where you can taste it. No innuendo on water play please. That is my job.

Neat to middling amounts of water it is very unlike any Arran I have encountered. Very toffee and caramel driven. Salted interpretation of both no less. Neat it is a little alcohol thick but still very drinkable, if a tad burning. Even a little water though turns it into a very smooth, kind of salted toffee doughnut style whisky. I was kind of addicted to salted toffee doughnuts for a while, I know of what I speak.

More water, like heavily more water, adds a mix of traditional green fruit that feels like a more Arran by way of Hakushu whisky style. Initially just soft notes around the toffee, enough water means that the green fruit takes centre stage with the salted caramel around the edges.

Initially as a salted caramel heavy whisky I found it soothing, smooth and easy drinking but not too complex. I was going to call it a whisky that did one thing but very well – a whisky for the high end of enjoying to sooth and relax with rather than examine.

Water turned that on its head; lots of fresh green fruit, a good mix of character. It is still easy to drink but now more freshening than soothing, and with a touch of that creamy Arran character. Very enjoyable either way, and with lots of room to explore. Both defies Arran expectations and confirms them depending on how you take it. A very high quality whisky.

Background: Second of Independent Spirit‘s independent bottlings of whisky. This time an Arran bottling – one of 57 bottles, distilled in 1997 and aged for 17 years in a sherry puncheon. Bottled non chill filtered at cask strength this definitely caught my eye. The label may look identical to the last, Fettercairn bottling – but if you look closely the cape colour has changed. Huge difference. Drink while listening to a general mix of metal – around the thrash to death side of things.

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Arran That Boutique-y Whisky Company Batch 4

Arran: That Boutique-y Whisky Company: Batch 4 (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 52% ABV)

Visual: Nigh clear with a mix of green hints and vanilla toffee hue. Becomes hazy with water.

Viscosity: Very thin slow puckering.

Nose: Alcohol and crumpets. Rocks. Water adds heather and pepper.

Body: Warm to burning. Buttered toast. Lemon pancakes. Water makes much sweeter – golden syrup and vanilla pods. Touch of vanilla yogurt with lime as well. Fudge. More buttery.

Finish: Light lemon pancakes. Light oak. Butter. Water adds vanilla yogurt and toffee. Tins of tropical fruits.

Conclusion: I don’t think I have seen a whisky with the nose and body so much at odds for a long time. The nose is, well, a tad rough. Not just in the alcohol, that element disperses with water so isn’t that big a deal. It is the fact that it has touches of crushed rocks and pepper that kind of sticks out – it is not that appealing. Though there are soft crumpet notes in there as well, but it doesn’t quite balance.

So, how is the body? Well, neat it is mainly alcohol heat- so let’s skip straight to the part where I add the water shall we? Boom! Sweet golden syrup and vanilla pods – a real big sweetness over the kind of soft buttery base I associate with Arran, with a few lime high notes.

Unfortunately adding even more water brings the body more in line with the aroma, not heavily, but it brings out a slightly gritty character to the base. It lowers the sweetness but keeps the butteryness, which unfortunately is less capable at holding up against the newfound grit.

Still, if you keep the water on the lower end then it is a reasonable whisky that shows the strength of Arran well. Well, the body does anyway. Still, less is definitely more with water use here. Even at over 50% abv it turns far too quickly from where it works to where it is past the tipping point. It doesn’t really outdo the official bottlings i have tried – its main addition is the big sweetness with just a little water. Still, it does emphasise that buttery toast base, which is not something you see often.

So, solid body, bit of a bad aroma. Not stand out but solid enough.

Background: Ok, here we go “Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!”. Not run into ” That Boutique-y Whisky Company” though a quick googling shows that their bottles have some pretty non standard cartoon like labels. Not bad. Arran has been a nice smooth, if not always that complex, whisky for me, so I thought this may be nice. Drunk whilst listening to the haunting Ritualz CDR.

Isle Of Arran Dark

Isle Of Arran: Dark (Scotland: Bitter: 4.3% ABV)

Visual: Dark mahogany red. Thin off white head. Clear and still body.

Nose: Chocolate cake. Roasted hazelnuts. Fresh brown bread. Slight sour cherry touch.

Body: Good bitterness and bitter chocolate. Sour dough touch. Light earthy note. Sour tang. Roasted nuts. Light cherries and fruitcake.

Finish: Bitter coffee. Earthy touch. Slight sour dough. Slight refreshing sour note. Light charring.

Conclusion: Sometimes, for all I love the big intense new wave craft beers, sometimes the old ways are the best for that moment. This is one of those times. This is a dark, malt led beer with lots of roasted notes, chocolate and coffee that almost call to the lighter end of the porter spectrum in style. Yet for all that it has the light earthiness and refreshing sour tang of a well made rounded bitter to match.

It is soothing in feel, yet with big mouth filling flavours and refreshing sour back. The contrast continues with the sweetness against the earth touch. They really have pulled out all the stops in balancing this one. There are even some fruitcake notes, lighter than you would get in an ESB style beer but still calling to that as well. This isn’t one of those beers that instantly grabs you by the face, but it does not make it any less of a good one. At 4.3% it is not quite session abv in my mind, but in these high abv days it will do in a pinch.

The quintessential soothing beer for kicking back with friends. Well worth having and well worth sharing. A show of the old beer ways done good.

Background: Third of the Arran pack that my parents gave to me as a gift. Many thanks mum and dad. It is great having a beer friendly family! This one was broken open in the vain attempt to get me to stop playing Binding Of Isaac Rebirth for a while. That game is addictive as hell. So much so that alcohol seemed the safer addiction. Go fig.

Isle Of Arran Blond

Isle Of Arran: Blond (Scotland: Golden Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale gold. Thin white dash of a head that leaves sud traces. No carbonation shown in the body.

Nose: Crisp bitterness. Cream. Lime and lemon. Popcorn. Hops. Raspberry pavolva.

Body: Crisp bitterness. Lemon fresh and zesty. Prickles of hops. Cream. Lime jelly. Toffee touch.

Finish: Lemon. Light bitterness and hop prickle. Cream. Crisp. Peach touch. Malt biscuits. Toffee. Slightly musty.

Conclusion: You know, I don’t think I have had a traditional style blond ale for while. I could be wrong though. I often am. Drinking does horrid things to the memory.

That said, this puts me in mind of that beer I drank many year ago – Summer Lightning – though this has a more forthright bitter character. Despite the increased bitterness it shares a similar ease of drinking and a well done citrus character.

The package is one that I always find to my taste when I find a beer that goes that way and, while it doesn’t quite reach the summer thirst quenching heights of Summer Lightning it is very refreshing. Its problem for me is that the end comes in slightly musty, and the citrus and cream body – while fun – is far from complex. I will say however that for something with such creamy flavours it does manage an impressive dry note for the texture which stops it getting sickly. Overall, between the crisp hop kick and light citrus freshness is doesn’t fail to be pleasing.

A very solid enjoyable blond beer – nowt out of the normal for the style, but a solid take on it.

Background: The second beer from the Arran gift pack my family kindly brought back from Scotland for me. Many thanks. I have tried the blond a few times before over the years but never got around to reviewing until now. This was drunk while listening to the FLCL soundtrack. Because FLCL. I need no other reason.

Isle Of Arran Sunset

Isle Of Arran: Sunset (Scotland: Bitter: 4.4% ABV)

Visual: Golden brown. Moderate off white head. Reasonable amount of carbonation.

Nose: Ginger spice. Lime sorbet. Digestive biscuits. Lemongrass. Strawberry.

Body: Creamy texture. Strawberry. Gingerbread and light chilli spice. Bready. Light creamy lemon. Some bitterness.

Finish: Gingerbread. Cream. Light hop bitterness. Bready. Grassy. Lightly earthy.

Conclusion: This is both a mellow and yet also slightly spicy beer. Intriguing. The main texture and taste on this one is a slightly sweetened cream. You know, nothing too out of the normal for the sweeter end of the bitter fare (Sweeter end of bitter. That always looks odd…) While it is not unusual it is well done, with some nice strawberry and sorbet notes amongst the sweetness. Nowt special, but nice.

Then, well then comes the spicy notes – not like a curry spicy, like crushed gingerbread or a ginger sponge. Warming, but in an unobtrusive way – the warmth works in a similar way to how hops would normally be used. I said “would” as the more traditional hop notes seem to be quite reined in here.

So, yeah, mellow but spicy – behind that is a fairly simple and slightly grassy beer, however overall it is pretty nice. The ginger notes are not excessive – in fact it does not push any given note excessively, yet it gives a tasty experience while it slips down so easily. Even the earthy character, so common of British hops, is held back so to be present but not intrusive.

Balanced and satisfying. Not one to rave about, but well worth easy back with.

Background: With a name like sunset I kind of expected it to be an Amber ale. I was wrong. Anyway, this was part of a set of Arran beers that my Parents brought back from Scotland. Again, many thanks. I have a fun family. Best I know the Arran brewery and distillery are not linked, apart from being on the same Island.

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