Regular readers will be aware that Arran has featured once or twice already on WhiskyReviews.net but it is testament to the quality of the whisky being produced at this little distillery that I keep returning to them.
At the end of March I found myself bound for the isle of Arran on a family vacation and couldn’t resist stopping by the distillery for a visit and a few drams.
I really can’t recommend Arran enough. Of all the islands off Scotland’s west coast, it is perhaps the most accessible. Just a couple of hours from Glasgow by train and by ferry will have you stepping onto the dock at Brodick. The island is home to magnificent scenery and fine fine hostelries, sites of astounding historical interest and of course, the distillery. Unlike some other parts of Scotland, Arran caters well for the tourist and there appears to be a real pride taken in championing local produce. It seems every restaurant has Arran Cheese on the menu, Arran Beer on tap and Arran single malt behind the bar. Even in restrooms you can find hand-wash from Arran Aromatics. It all helps to define the islands unique identity, which must surely be cherished in these days of identical high streets throughout seemingly every city in the world.
By Scottish standards, Arran is a young distillery, but the reputation of its malt has been steadily growing over the years. The distillery itself is of a simple, modern design though the pagoda’s which crown the rooftops pay homage to tradition. The buildings seem to huddle together for warmth at the foot of some impressive hills, home of course, to the famous eagles which adorn every bottle of the Arran malt.
The tour kicks off with an introductory video which is accompanied by a welcoming dram of the excellent 14 year old, before moving on to view the production area. Arran is a compact site, with mashtuns, washbacks and stills all under one roof and as a result, is perhaps inevitably, one of the shorter distillery tours at around 45 minutes.
Back at the visitor centre, the tour concludes with a sample of the Arran Gold liqueur – a pleasant enough drop if not quite to my taste. Additional tastings can be booked for a very reasonable fee with several options to choose from. For my part I chose to sample the Lochranza Reserve, the Port Cask Finish, the 18 year old and a Sherry Cask expression. Each dram was of a high quality and would have been worthy in its own way of a place in my collection but I was particularly intrigued by the Port Cask Finish and decided to take a bottle home.
The Scores: About the Scoring System…
Smell: A rich, intense nose.
Taste: A lot of flavour on offer here and a satisfying mouthfeel thanks to the lack of chill filtration.
Value for Money: 9.5 / 10. Generally speaking, the Arran malt is great value for money with bottling strength of 46% as standard and much of the range no more than £50.
Overall: 44 / 50.
Arran is worthy of a lot of praise in my eyes. They have created a unique single malt with some intriguing expressions while ensuring their product will always be shown in its best light by bottling un-chill filtered, at higher strength.