June 18, 2012
See my review of Isle of Arran distillery’s 10-year product here. In 2004, Arran released a limited-edition bottling of a peated version of their Arran malt with only 9000 bottles shipped. In 2011, they released a second edition, with 12000 bottles worldwide. They must have sold out quickly, because any mention of the peated malt has vanished from Arran’s website. Weird.
The bottle I tasted was likely the 2nd edition, although that also appears mostly sold out at online retailers. If you really want a bottle after reading my review, you may have trouble finding it.
Peated to a relatively mild 14 ppm (phenol parts per million, the industry standard metric for peat content), using local Arran peat, and named after Machrie Moor, a tourist destination on the island boasting Bronze Age stone circles, the malt is reportedly 7 or 8 years of age. I’m always a little skeptical when a traditionally non-peated whisky releases a peated version. Peat, unlike bacon, does not make everything better.
Nose: Interesting peat. Campfire, burlap, hay. Slight meatiness. Light – smoked, but not muddied. Not hugely complex. Arran peat does not appear to have a distinctive nose, unlike Ornkey and Islay peat. It just smells like regular old smoke.
Palate: Creamy. Fiery – the youth is evident, unfortunately so. Peat only expresses itself as a low smolder. Some brown sugar.
Finish: Medium-long. The peat makes itself known – a nice dash of smoked almonds. There’s good balance between peat smoke and cereal sweetness – at least they didn’t try to peat the hell out of it.
With Water: Water adds some grassiness, but not much else.
Overall: This dram has the air of an experiment – someone at Arran said “hey, let’s do peat!” and so they did. It’s moderately well-balanced, but it’s neither particularly complex nor particularly exciting. It’s also been bottled far too young. Arran die-hard fans would be interested to see what smoking does to their favorite malt, but the rest of us shouldn’t offer more than a shrug.