Arran Machrie Moor

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.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Arran distillery was built in 1995 on the Isle of Arran, an island off the western coast of Scotland with a long history of illicit distillation. The distillery uses water collected from the river Easan Biorach, which flows over complex geography: a peat bog, coarse and fine granite, gravel, glacial sands, and clays before arriving at the distillery. Arran’s stills are small and squat, similar to those used by Macallan. Washbacks are Oregon pine. The distillery is now producing small amounts of peated malt in addition to its light and unpeated whisky.
Arran Machrie Moor
46% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $69
Acquired: (1/4 oz pour) K&L Spirits Tasting

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  • Does Arran have die-hard fans?

    Although we felt differently about their other releases at that tasting, I agree completely with this one.

    • I like most of what I’ve tried from them. The ten year is great and the Sherry Single Cask is fantastic. I’ve got quite a few of them that I’m looking forward to trying, but that’s helped by the fact that Oregon stocked up on Arran whiskies and is now trying to unload everything but the core expressions.

  • I’ve often looked at this in the LCBO and wondered whether it would be any good. Certainly the bottle presentation looks nice, and the story behind it is interesting, but if it doesn’t measure up to Highland Park or any of the Islay whiskies, I likely won’t spend the money.

    There are about 65 bottles left at selected LCBO outlets in Ontario, Canada (mostly in southern Ontario); they’re priced at $72.95 CAD, which is actually pretty close to the US pricing for once.

  • It looks like the 3rd Edition has just been released. No information on the Arran site about the size of the release…

    There are still 32 bottles of the 2nd Edition available in Ontario, and the price hasn’t changed over the past four months (unlike the price of the Aberlour 18, which just went up a a whopping $43, from $105 CAD to $148 CAD in the past week!)