Arran

Isle of Arran are one of Scotland's newer distilleries, having been founded in 1995. Arran has a long history of illicit stills  and only once before 1995 saw a legal distilling operation located in Lagg. The founding of Arran was achieved through the sale of 'Founders Bonds' which, for an investment of capital, gave buyers 5 cases of Lochranza blended whisky and 5 cases of Arran Founders Reserve when it was ready to be bottled in 2001. Time has passed by quickly and now Arran is able to offer a wide range of single malts in their core range, from 10 year olds through to an 18 year old.  The business is growing quickly and recently announced plans to build a new Arran facility - back on Lagg once again.


Posted 27 July 2018

Arran has released nearly a dozen Amarone Wine Cask whiskies over the years. This 2007 example is one of, if not their first. The whisky was matured in ex-bourbon casks before being re-racked into Amarone (which is a blend of Corvina, Molinara and Rodinella grapes) for a finishing period. We reviewed the 2017 Arran Amarone last year – let’s see if this example from 10 years earlier (with a slightly higher ABV of 55% as opposed to 50%) is just as successful.


Posted 27 July 2018

Another wine cask from the Felsina estate. This time, a Chianti Classico, which looks like it might have been a limited edition produced for the Russian market. It’s bottled at 55% and has spent less than a year finishing in Chianti casks before being released in 2007.


Posted 30 August 2017

You might not know who Emily Chappell is by name, but you’ve doubtless already seen her work. Emily is the artist who designs the graphic novel style labels for That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s range of independently bottled whiskies. Her time is spent not just creating the now iconic labels, but also researching them – digging into whisky folklore for interesting and oft-times quirky stories about both the distilleries and the people who worked at them. The fun and colourful labels are somewhat of a ‘code’ of knowledge, historical references and in-jokes about each individual distillery. You’ll certainly need some hefty whisky smarts to pick up on each and every one.


Posted 03 May 2017

Cask 'finishing', once thought the preserve of the experimental is now a commonplace sight across whisky world. Perhaps the first example of this approach was from Balvenie's David Stewart who took a traditionally oaked whisky and re-casked it into a sherry butt to see what would happen. 


Posted 27 July 2018

This Arran wine cask release was matured in ex-bourbon for 8 years before being finished for 9 months in fino sherry casks from the famous Valdespino bodega in Jerez. It was bottled in 2007 at 50% ABV.


Posted 27 July 2018

8 year old Arran that’s spent an unspecified time finishing in Fontalloro wine casks from Felsina in Italy. This particularly well-known wine is produced from 100% Sangiovese grapes – which makes for an interesting classification of ‘IGT Toscana’ (rather than DOCG Chianti Classico) as being a varietal Sangiovese it fell outside of the Chianti regulations of the time (early 1980s) which required a maximum of 70% Sangiovese and at least 10% from white grapes to be included in Chianti red wines. Whilst the appellation has modernised, Felsina has decided to stick with the IGT Toscana classification. This Arran finish was bottled in 2007 at 55% ABV.


Posted 27 July 2018

Matured in traditional oak for 8 years, this Arran has been finished for 7 months in Hungarian oak (Quercus Petraea) that previously contained tokaji aszu (the proper name for the sweet wine commonly called tokay in English speaking countries). It was bottled in 2007 at 55% ABV.


Posted 27 July 2018

Released in 2008, this 8 year old Arran spent 10 months maturing in casks which previously contained Madeira.


Posted 27 July 2018

Moscatel de Setubal is a fortified Muscat wine produced in the Setubal Municipality of Portugal. This Arran has spent 8 years maturing in ex-bourbon before being transferred into this particular style of dessert wine for a finishing period of 10 months. It was bottled in 2008 at 55% ABV.


Posted 27 July 2018

This 8 year old Sassicaia finished Arran is slightly different to many of the wine cask finishes that the distillery has produced – it was first matured in sherry casks rather than ex-bourbon. Sassicaia is a sought-after Tuscan red wine that was first released in 1968 (it is regarded as the first ‘Super Tuscan’ wine). It’s made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape and comes from the only single wine estate in Italy that has gained its own DOC (in 1994). This Arran has spent 9 months finishing in Sassicaia casks before being bottled at 55% in 2008.


Posted 27 July 2018

When talking about Pinot Noir, most folks would immediately think about Burgundy. Not so with this Arran wine cask release which has spent its finishing period in Pinot Noir casks from the Knipser Estate (South West of Frankfurt) in Germany. It was bottled in 2009 at 50% ABV following 8 years of maturation (most of which would have been in ex-bourbon).


Posted 27 July 2018

A relatively short finishing period for this 2009 Arran – just 6 months in wine casks from Pomerol in Bordeaux. The particular casks utilised here are from Chateau La Conseillante – a famous estate that can trace its roots back to 1735. Given this, it’s likely that the wine was probably a blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec, as is standard for this producer.


Posted 27 July 2018

The St Emilion red wine that this Arran has been finished in was sourced from Chateau Fonplegade – one of the oldest Bordeaux vineyards complete an with imposing French castle. The Grand Cru Classe classification within the St Emilion region is quite broad, with 63 individual estates within the category, of which, Chateau Fonplegade is but one. Slightly older than many of the Arran wine cask finished, this bottling is 9 years of age, which includes a whole 12 months of finishing in Bordeaux wine casks. It was bottled in 2008 at 50% ABV.


Posted 19 July 2017

It’s hard to imagine that Isle of Arran Distillery has only been around for a shy over 20 years – there’s a constantly growing number of releases from the distillery and an expanding fan base all getting exciting for the unveiling of the distillery's first official 21 year old in the next few years. The Arran core range is a mix of traditional age-statements bottlings (10, 14 & 18 year olds) and wine-finished whiskies (port, amarone, madeira, sauternes). We recently took a look at the 2017 amarone release, so there's no time like the present to take a step back to the beginning and take alook at the Arran entry level bottling – the 10 year old.


Posted 27 July 2018

This is the first time I’ve seen a Pineau des Charentes (which is a mix of Cognac and grape juice) cask utilised for whisky maturation. Apparently there’s a German single malt called ‘The Nine Springs’ which has also given it a go – but, they remain quite the rarity. This example from Arran is a touch older than many of its sibling wine cask series bottlings at 10 years of age. Nevertheless, it’s not had an extended period of finishing – just 8 months, which is broadly in line with the wine finishes the distillery has produced over the last decade. It was released 2008 at an ABV of 55%.


Posted 05 October 2017

The 10 years that Master Distiller James MacTaggart has been with Arran have passed quickly – the distillery has gained in stature and reputation, reached the milestone of introducing an 18 year old to its core range and are developing their plans to open a second distillery on the southern coast of the Isle of Arran at Lagg. In the meantime, the distillery is celebrating MacTaggart’s 10 years with the release of the ‘James MacTaggart Anniversary Single Malt’.


Posted 08 March 2018

The Dramble’s web guru Danny is a huge fan of The Arran Malt – it’s very much his talisman whisky. Ever since I introduced him to the limited edition 18 year old (the distillery’s first to reach this level of maturity) a few years ago, he’s become both a convert, and a preacher for the quality of whisky being made over in Lochranza. His bottle collection shows this journey of discovery quite clearly. My experience with Arran goes back a few years earlier to when the distillery was still building up its stocks and starting to create its first core range. The first Arran 12 year old had rolled off the production line in 2008 - my introduction came two years later when the 14 year old was revealed.


Posted 09 November 2017

Danny’s favourite distillery makes another SMWS appearance with this 17 year old Arran that was distilled on 20th April 2000. It was matured for 16 years in an ex-Bourbon barrel and then re-racked into a 2nd fill toasted hogshead for another year of slumbering. One of 234 bottles. Spicy & Dry flavour profile.


Posted 31 January 2018

The colour of a whisky plays a significant part in its overall visual appeal, but also invariable leads to the forming of assumptions – lighter whisky being less flavourful, darker being matured for longer and therefore being more flavoursome, or having a particularly large sherry influence. Neither of these statements are necessarily the case. The colour of whisky might provide you with some clues as to its maturation and possible flavours combinations, but only through tasting can you validate your suppositions. Today’s whisky provides us with a perfect example with which to learn from.


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