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.
Nose: Sweet and sherried, but with a sense of dryness. Red berries combined with a selection of macerated and dried fruits – cherries, raisins and damsons. These are supported by rich bakery aromas – Black Forest gateaux, home-made fudge and vanilla cream buns. There’s both nuttiness (hazel) and salinity here – a pinch of salt – along with some dustiness – leather and dried golden tobacco. The addition of water adds coffee grounds and chocolate into the equation as well as emphasising both raspberries and cherries.
Taste: The arrival brings sugar-dusted and reduced fruits – redcurrants, strawberries and raspberries. It’s followed by some prickly spicing (pepper and cinnamon), which is fairly bitter and astringent – it walks the line of contrasting with the sweeter flavours and actively fighting against them. Leather and nuttiness are on the mid-palate and fade into both earthiness and dryness at the back. At this point, some of the youthfulness of the spirit can be detected – nothing too major, just a touch of copper contact. Water brings out some gentle coastal nuances – a salty sea breeze – whilst softening the fruits into a more syrupy consistency.
Finish: Medium in length – part sweet, part salty – but certainly rather dry.
Fino sherry is oft-times rather dry – and so is this fino finished Arran. In its natural form there’s a bit of a tussle for dominance between sweetness, bitterness and dryness – a few drops of water proves to be the great leveller, allowing a balance to be found. Throughout there is a lovely saltiness, which really does play well with the other aromas and flavours. Spikey and youthful in places, rich and opulent in others – I’d love to see what another 10 years of maturation would bring to this marriage of Arran spirit with fino cask.
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