31 May 2017

28/05/2017 Isle of Arran distillery tour and tasting

It was a short ferry crossing from Claonaig, then a short walk to reach here. Bishlouk and I have a bite (soup of the day, the selection of pâtés, washed down with a hot chocolate), then it is game on for the 13:00 tour.

The tour starts with a promotional video and a dram of Isle of Arran 14yo, which is very nice.
Unfortunately, I do not have a camera, so no pictures. The things I make a note of are:

-Arran uses Optic barley
-The barley is malted by Glen Esk Maltings, in Montrose -- same as Glen Scotia
-Arran Machrie Moor is made with peated barley at 20ppm
-The Lyne arm is flat, like Glen Scotia's

"The Irish distill three times. Here, we do it only twice; it's enough. They do it to be sure... to be sure... to be sure."

It is a funny feeling to visit a place one has been to years earlier. It is made even funnier by the guide being the same as in 2008, when I was first here. He does not recognise me, of course, but is pleased, when I point it out to him, that I came back.

After the tour, we have a drop of Arran Gold, the sweet, syrupy cream. We also signed up for the tasting, though, which starts ten minutes later.

Arran Amarone Cask Finish (50%, OB, Amarone Cask, L 24 03 17): nose: a light wine influence, with raisins, tannins and melted marzipan. Mouth: oily, then wine-y, thick as an Italian wine (nicely observed!), with a pinch of earth, grape pips and squashed strawberries. Finish: sweet, with squashed strawberries again and Mon Chéri pralines. This makes me think of Fragolino. 8/10

Arran Sauternes Cask Finish (50%, OB, Sauternes Cask, b. ca 2017): nose: a horse's stable, slightly salty. A beach run on a sunny day. Mouth: sugary and robust, it quickly becomes drying, and gives out a note of vanilla. Finish: typical Sauternes maturation, with a drying, white-wine note. Funny how Sauternes finishes are often dry, when the wine itself is mellow and sweet. 7/10

Arran Port Cask Finish (50%, OB, Port Cask, L 06 11 15): nose: syrup, Sirop de Liège (apple-and-pear syrupy jam), which prompts Bishlouk to tell me I have not had any in too long a while. Nail varnish comes up, in the end, alongside cured meat. Mouth: fresh, viscous, with more fruit syrup. The Port influence is very pronounced. Finish: coating, syrupy, with dark fruit, elderberry cordial and liqueur praline. 7/10

Arran Madeira Cask Finish (50%, OB, Madeira Cask, L 23 06 16): nose: more traditional, with toasted coconut, ginger and dry wood shavings. Mouth: thinner than expected, closer to warm, thin custard, milk and some infused hay. Finish: soft, with growing spices (ginger) and wine-y tannins. 7/10

Arran 18yo (46%, OB, Sherry Casks, b.20/09/2016): nose: polished dashboards, furniture wax, walnut armchairs. Banana appears in the back of the nose too. Mouth: soft, with squashed banana, distant, dark-wood furniture. The mouth is much less expressive than the nose. Finish: less interesting, it still has sawdust, banana, vanilla custard and, perhaps, dried apricots. Water smothers the nose, but makes the mouth and finish more expressive. 7/10

Arran 21st Anniversary (52.6%, OB Special Edition, ex-Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads, 5988b): this one is immediately another calibre. Nose: cork, dunnage warehouse, ground apricot stones and old sultanas. Mouth: mellow, with a twist of the pepper mill on a nice, fluffy muffin. Finish: milky pastry, soft cake, with squashed banana, custard and a touch of white pepper. 8/10

Good excursion, really. I think I preferred all of them to the one from Friday.

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