Tasting Notes by Nozinan
My first taste of Arran came out of this bottle. I received it as a gift from my in-laws over the holidays. My sister in law saw it at a silent auction and won it for me. I didn’t ask how much she paid for it and I don’t know what it cost when it was originally released.
I opened it with my whisky club on January 3 and was blown away, especially by the first taste. It was because of this first impression that I even noticed the 12 YO CS available at the LCBO, and why I ordered a sample of the same batch from Master of Malt to see if I like it ($100 a bottle is too much to try on spec). In order to prepare myself for the sample I tried some Arran 100 proof, and this is the next and penultimate tasting before I decide whether to plunge forward.
This spirit was distilled on July 15, 2002, slept in a refill ex-bourbon barrel for 12 years, and produced 210 bottles in total. I believe it is cask strength at 57.9%. This bottle was gassed after opening and was opened only once more before today (I poured it for my uncle) and re-gassed.
As per my usual method, I nosed and tasted this neat, then added a little bit of water and waited, and completed my notes.
I don’t usually comment on appearance, but this one looks very thick and syrupy in the glass. If I had to be poetic I would say it is the colour of sunlight. When I added a few drops of water you could see ripples like shadows made by sun on a wavy pool.
Sweet syrup hits me first, caramel and vanilla. There’s a bit of alcohol heat to it. Candied orange or lemon peel. Some citrus peaking through. Peach? Stewed apples or is that stewed pears? There is an underlying complexity to the nose. I wonder if it is held back by my own inability to tease out or describe what I smell. Fantastic nose. 22/25
Water brings out some more of the candied peel and adds a touch of the effervescence I tasted before adding water. (23/25)
Wow! I’m hit with a lemony effervescence that builds through the development as a sour note. It literally feels like pop rocks in my mouth. Otherwise it is very dry, with a bitterness to it, in some ways like cracked pepper. 22/25
Water just amplifies everything into an explosion of flavour! The cracked pepper is more pronounced. (23/25)
Finish: delightful grapefruit on the finish. Not the pith, but the fruit itself. 22/25
Water causes the grapefruit to recede and the pith to be more prominent . (22/25)
Balance: The nose and the palate are very different. The nose is well-balanced but the taste is “in your face”. 21/25 – With a little water the nose and palate align more. (22/25)
Score Neat: 88/100 Score with water: 90/100
The “Modified Ashok Manoeuvre” brings out some green apples in the nose and a slight creaminess to the palate, though the pop-rocks remain present.
This is a very good whisky. It’s not a profile that I would normally reach for, but I quite like it. I would suggest that it might be challenging for beginners, but that someone with a more experienced palate could find a lot to like about this.
I am very much looking forward to tasting (and reviewing) the OB 12 YO CS, as the sample should be in my hands very soon.