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%.
Nose: Ripe garden-fresh fruits - cooking apples, pears and greengages. These are supported by bright (boozy) honey, sultanas and a scattering of demerara sugar. The Cognac-esque finish this whisky has been given certainly comes across strongly on the nose. In the background there’s a slight coastal influence – smoothed pebbles and rock pools. Water combines the honey into some pastries – baklava, cream buns and sugar-dusted puff pastry.
Taste: Rich and viscous in texture, the arrival delivers heavily reduced stone fruits – apricot flans and baked peaches. The development leads us off into other fruity inflections – plums, cherries, and bright fresh red berries. There’s some bitterness here – in part from milk chocolate, but also from the cask influence (which is well-judged). In the back palate, lovely nuttiness – hazelnut and almond (marzipan). The addition of water heightens the sweetness levels adding dusted sugar on top of all the reduced fruits. Honestly, it’s not needed in this instance.
Finish: Medium with gentle peppery spice and a progressively drying fade.
This might be the first Pineau des Charentes finish I’ve sampled, but I’m hoping it’s not the last, as its worked a treat with the Arran spirit. The end result is a well-balanced combination of rich (not overly sweet) fruits, tasty bakery flavours and tingly aromatic spice. Probably my favourite Arran wine cask finish to date. Well worth looking out for, and quite different to most of the run of the mill wine cask finished products out there.
But don't take our word for it..
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