Released in 2008, this 8 year old Arran spent 10 months maturing in casks which previously contained Madeira.
Nose: Bright an lively with tons of orange influence – peels, rinds and juice. This is supported by aromas of milk chocolate and coffee (so a tasty cup of mocha), hard toffees and honey-laced pastries. With water, there’s some tropical fruit – mango and guava – steeped herbal tea and rosewater.
Taste: Sweet with candied orange, caramel wafers, and honeyed malt loaf. There’s tartness here – both grapefruit and slightly steely minerality – they plays nicely against the sweeter elements. In the background – vanilla and oak with some soft, chewy tannins. Water enhances sweetness with toffee and even more orange influence, whilst also allowing some creamy vanilla oak room to shine.
Finish: Medium to long, sweet with reduced sugars and gradually becoming increasingly bitter and drying.
This is a perfectly sound whisky, that I suspect some will enjoy more than me, and some will enjoy less. When it works, its bright and crisp and with enough oranges to open an orchard – but, conversely, nearing the end of the development, the wood starts to feel a touch heavy-handed and astringent. Nevertheless, this remains a tasty whisky.