Fantastic depth, clarity, and overall balance. Very affordable. Bottled without chill filtration or added coloring at 46% ABV.
Today we continue our journey through the Arran Malt, aptly named for the only active whisky distillery currently on the Isle of Arran in between Scotland’s west coast and Kintyre Peninsula (home of the Campbeltown region). Take a look back at my review of Arran’s 10 year old single malt to get your bearings on the geography, history, and production details of The Arran Malt, as well as to see how Arran’s entry level age stated whisky holds up to my, er, discerning tastes.
At a glance, this young, independently owned distillery appears to be doing everything right. They source only Scottish barley, they use high-quality casks, they age their whisky onsite in fairly traditional warehouses, and they always bottle a naturally presented whisky without chill filtration or added coloring – both of which are unnecessary nuisances that at best have absolutely no positive impact on the quality of the whisky, and at worst hurt the flavor and mouthfeel and mislead the consumer.
Arran’s 14 year old malt is the next step up in age from their 10 year old (pending the comeback of the discontinued 12 year cask strength) in Arran’s year-round core range of whiskies. We’ll also take a look at the 18 year old in a couple weeks, as well as some single cask bottlings and the aforementioned 12 year cask strength down the road. Brett has also reviewed Arran’s non-age stated Amarone cask finished single malt on our Youtube channel.
- Distilled, aged, and bottled onsite
- A vatting of first fill ex-bourbon and sherry casks
- Made from unpeated malt
- Bottled at 46% ABV
- Unchillfiltered and natural color
Nose: Fresh and fruity. The heart of the aroma is an elegant mix of red and and tropical fruits. Dried strawberry, key lime, banana, and slightly zesty lemon meringue all sitting atop a layer of soft, creamy malt. After a rest some honey emerges. There is no bitterness to be found, and the presentation of flavors is crystal clear.
Palate: The arrival is filled with pure, clean cereal grains before honey, fresh orange, dried strawberry, and key lime emerge and wash away the cereal notes. As the dram further develops, a lovely zestiness emerges and the flavors further evolve into creamy fruit – like a parfait – and fresh ginger. Great presentation of sweet and sour. The mouth feel is soft and medium-bodied.
Finish: Vanilla, strawberry cream, wildflowers, and raw honey.
Buying Recommendation: Buy it now! Rarely will you find this combination of overall quality and affordability in a single malt. At a price within $10 of many 10-12 year old single malts, Arran 14 Year has a level of depth, clarity, and overall quality that would put many 18 year old malts to shame.
This whisky really showcases the optimal convergence of unique island malt spirit, sherry cask maturation, and bourbon cask maturation. It is not old enough to have all of its spirit-derived flavors washed out, and it shows a balance of the character of both types of casks that were vatted together to make the final product. I can’t think of another whisky where I have seen these three elements come together so harmoniously, without coming across as jumbled and confusing. This is a testament to the skill of Master Distiller and Blender James MacTaggart and the rest of the production team working for Arran. Well done!