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Greece perhaps isn’t the first country that springs to mind when one thinks about scotch whisky but as it turns out, there’s a fairly healthy appetite for the spirit there, driven by some extremely knowledgeable and passionate connoisseurs.
Earlier this year I was contacted by Giorgios Logdanidis, a founding member of the Greek Whisky Association who told me about their first single cask bottling, a 12 year old sherry matured Arran malt. As a fan of that particular distillery, I was very interested to try it out and I’d like to thank Giorgios and his colleagues for getting a sample of this tasty little drop all the way up to Scotland for me.
The Greek Whisky Association is a group of whisk(e)y enthusiasts who gather to share their love for the king of spirits. As well as arranging tastings, hosted by representatives from the distilleries themselves, the Association also aims to organise group trips to Scotland, allowing their members to experience the landscape and distilleries, firsthand.
For details on how to join the Greek Whisky Association, click here.
Arran is a fascinating distillery. Though I am personally a fan, it feels like it is perhaps only in the last five years or so that this distillery has started to get the recognition it deserves.
Founded in the mid ’90s, well before the current rush of new distilleries, it was a project well ahead of its time. Though maximising the impact of tourism has always been central to the project, producing a unique, quality spirit has been the main priority from the outset. A fact demonstrated by the higher bottling strength of 46%, displayed proudly across the majority of their core range.
The distillery has gone from strength to strength, with the last few years bringing the release of both their first widely available 18 year old and later, a limited release 21 year old. This has been followed by dramatic expansion in the shape of the new Lagg distillery, situated at the opposite end of the island from the original location in Lochranza. It all combines to make this a very exciting time indeed for the isle of Arran’s spirit. Appropriate then, that the good folks at the Greek Whisky Association chose it for their first bottling.
Aged for 12 years in an ex-sherry cask, it was bottled at 54.3% and retailed at around 68 euros.
*Full Disclosure: I was sent this sample so that I could share my thoughts with you, the reader. As always, I will strive to remain as impartial as possible.
Smell: Nice syrupy sherry notes. Treacle and maple syrup, raisins, prunes… Toffee Apples with cinnamon and nutmeg. Caramel, orange and very slightly burnt toast with a sprinkling of pepper.
Taste: A little oaky on first encounter but after a little settling time, some juicy raisins and sultanas come through with dark chocolate and a dusting of cinnamon. Cracked black pepper and orange rind. Water reveals honey and caramel, even a touch of barley sugar.
Thoughts: 68€ is a very reasonable price to pay for a single cask single malt of such limited numbers, especially one from such an active sherry cask.
A dram that shows a maturity beyond its years, thanks to some dynamic wood interaction. Good sherry character but not a sherry bomb as such, rather it achieves a fit and proper balance between spirit and oak. Either those guys over at the Greek Whisky Association got very lucky, or they know how to pick a damn good cask of malt whisky.
For more on Arran, go here.
For more on the Greek Whisky Association, go here.
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