Arran Distillery is one of the few remaining independently owned distilleries in Scotland and they regularly turn out cracking whiskies which are well-loved in the Braw Spirit household.
The distillery itself is well worth a visit if you get a chance, especially since it’s one of the more accessible island distilleries, being only a short ferry journey across the Firth of Clyde.
The limited edition 18 year old was released last month on Monday to complete the ‘countdown trilogy’ to a regular 18 year old expression which will be released in the future. We made sure our order was placed for the 18yo (with a review sure to feature), but a surprise addition appeared in an even older independent bottling from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS).
121.77 is a 19 year old single malt from a refill bourbon hogshead, distilled on 15th November 1995 and bottled at 53.4%. The bottle I have is one of 276 bottles released as part of the ‘Treasured Trio’ and is probably one of the few (only?) opportunities I’d have to try a single cask bottling from within a few months of Arran distillery’s opening.
Lovely nose – honey, rich baked apples, vanilla and toffee.
There’s fresh green apples in there, fruit salad sweets and a little orange blossom.
The first taste is sweet orange oil with some caramelised sugar sweetness. Dryness comes through and strong fresh tobacco and leather notes take over. Not as sweet as you’d expect, given the nose.
The finish is long, dry with that orange sweetness coming back.
Neat there’s a thick mouth feel and the typical (in my experience anyway) hot sharpness you get with Arrans of any age; it needs a little water to calm it down.
When diluted, it opens up beautifully; the ‘prickliness’ is reduced, but it retains the orange sweetness and the baked apples detected on the nose comes through. The dry, bitter notes are still there but not overwhelming.
Arran’s releases have got better and better over the years and this single cask whisky is a good sign of things to come in the official expressions.
As it stands, this bottle is a great dram, but a lacking a little bit of balance with the sweetness and dryness fighting it out in your mouth. If it was married with a few other Arran casks I imagine this would form the basis of a sensational whisky.
Would I buy another bottle of it? Yes probably, though that’s unlikely to be an option unless one appears on an auction somewhere. What I am excited about however is that if this is viewed as a sample of the casks which Arran have tucked away, then the next few years’ worth of older bottlings are going to be superb.