June 4, 2012
See my review of Isle of Arran distillery’s 10-year product here. Arran’s 10 year-old is full of bright, tart fruits and mild malty sweetness. It’s always interesting to see what an additional few years (in this case, 4) in oak casks does to a whisky – you’d expect more oak in the form of caramel/butterscotch or vanilla, and for fresh fruits to taste dried or jammy. You also look for resin, leather, dust, and other notes that result from new compounds forming from the longer aging. Like the 10 year, the 14 is non-chillfiltered and non-colored at 46% ABV. Since the distillery fired up its stills for the first time in 1995, the current 14 year-old bottling represents whisky that was made within the first 3 years of production. It’s kinda cool to think about drinking a whisky that was truly an unknown quantity – an experiment – when it was made. There was no old Arran around to emulate or reproduce when this was crafted.
Nose: Pine sap. Leather. Dusty dried orange. Lavender (potpourri).
Palate: Not as creamy as the 10 year-old, but somewhat caramelly and warm. Candied orange peel. Becomes more tart towards the end.
Finish: Medium-long. Some tartness, with sour cherries and pie filling. No bitterness! Nice balance between oaky caramel and dried fruit.
Overall: Good whisky on its own, but in comparison to the 10 year it’s mostly a novelty. If you love Arran 10, you’ll obviously enjoy Arran 14. If you’re looking for a deal like the 10 year, though, you won’t find it here. This price point means it’s competing with the likes of Lagavulin 16, the better Glenmorangies, and a whole swathe of stand-out malts in the 14-17 age range. This particular bottle just doesn’t stand up to the competition, and probably should be $10 to $15 cheaper.