Google Arranzilla, part two

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

April 30, 2021


Arranzilla, part two!

They've been good the day before yesterday…

Arran 10 yo (46%, OB, 2019)

Arran 10 yo (46%, OB, 2019) Three stars and a half
I think I remember the first Isle of Arran 10 years old as if it was yesterday. I think it was in 2005 or 2006. I also think they've upped their game since those epic times. Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's clearly on citrus, going from straight lemon to more elaborate bergamots, mandarin and kumquats. Behind that lemony barrage, more soft breads, brioche, light beers and just barley. Some Diageo-era expressions of Bladnoch spring to mind. I mean, before it was Diageo. Mouth: things have been reversed, bread and pastries first, then citrus, then overripe apples and pear cake. That's all very pleasant, if a wee tad simplistic – but not in a bad way at all. Touches of green peppercorns then, perhaps, as well as the tiniest metallic note. Pant button, when we were kids. Finish: medium, relatively soft, leaving your mouth as clean as a baby's. Earl grey. Comments: this goes down extremely well, it's no hassle and gets swallowed just as easy as the Nicomachean ethics. Right.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Lochranza 1996/2018 (50.2%, Private, Nigel & Lynn Arnold, cask #1511)

Lochranza 1996/2018 (50.2%, Private, Nigel & Lynn Arnold, cask #1511) Four stars and a half
Lochranza is Arran. Colour: deep gold. Nose: absolutely lovely, more 'island style', with some mirabelle jam and a little metal polish, touches of tar and liquorice, a drop of ocean water, rocks, earth, tyres… Makes me think of that distillery further south on the other side of the Kilbrannan Sound. Indeed, starts with an S. With water: just more of all that, emphasising on tar. Which may not be very Arran. Mouth: very empyreumatic, smoky, tarry, with some meaty sherry and more shoe polish than in some North-Korean barracks on the eve of Kim Jong Un's birthday (how very silly again, S.) With water: excellent tarry sherriness, with perfect tangerines too. Dried tangerines. Finish: long, on more metal polish and tar, walnuts, peat… Comments: this one's pretty mysterious and, actually, rather Longrowy. Excellent. Oh and I don't remember they were doing peat at Arran, back in 1996.
SGP:563 - 88 points.

Arran 1999 (50.6%, OB, Small Batch, +/-2019)

Arran 1999 (50.6%, OB, Small Batch, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: first feels like Sauternes on the nose, with apricots, quinces, mirabelles, honey… more custard pie then, Danishes, orange blossom water, some vanilla fudge and butterscotch… This one too I find very lovely. A malt that's pretty creamy on the nose. With water: closer to the barley, the earth, the grist and even the yeast. Mouth (neat): super good, with more sherry – or a feeling of sherry, with some leather, with some ginger, with some cinnamon, in short with some more present spicy oak. But no problems this far. With water: gets a tad drying now, perhaps. Chalky as far as texture is concerned. Finish: medium, with a little eucalyptus this time, and always this chalky, gritty texture. Comments: I was more fan of the nose. Another very good Arran nonetheless, in my opinion.
SGP:551 – 83 points.

Arran 13 yo 2005/2019 (50.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, Madeira finish, cask #18, 363 bottles)

Arran 13 yo 2005/2019 (50.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, Madeira finish, cask #18, 363 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: some bready, almost sour notes here, with even something slightly acetic – from the Madeira, I suppose. A feeling of dry white wine, which is absolutely not unpleasant, struck matches too… Let's see what water will do to it. With water: leather, dried porcinis, mustard sauce. All right then. Mouth (neat): well the Madeira's pretty loud indeed. Oak, vinegar, mustard, bone-dry white wine and pepper, with Arran's trademark creaminess struggling a wee bit to come to the surface. Some saltiness. With water: same-ish. Finish: same, with oranges that save it in the end. Comments: perhaps not my favourite amongst the Whic's otherwise excellent range. Still loyal.
SGP:461 - 78 points.

Arran 19 yo 1996/2015 (51.1%, Le Gus't, puncheon, cask #1634, 365 bottles)

Arran 19 yo 1996/2015 (51.1%, Le Gus't, puncheon, cask #1634, 365 bottles) Four stars
Indeed I still had this wee French bottling in the queue. I have a good felling since these good people do really fly to Scotland to select their casks and are not content with perusing large Excel files. Now that was before Covid, right. Colour: white wine. Nose: very clean, very much on clay and barley, citrons, sunflower oil, pilsner, custard, with the tiniest drop of white tequila and another one of pot-still rum. Very elegant drop on the nose. With water: perfect yeastiness, with something, hold on, Trappist? Mouth (neat): oh perfect, very fermentary and chalky (as far taste is concerned), with some grapefruit and just a touch of vanilla. One of those Sancerre-y malts, as I sometimes call them. With water: smoothened up and yet firm and vertical. Absolutely excellent. Finish: green apples and yellow pears (other the other way 'round), plus chalk and dough. A tiny pinchlet of salt in the aftertaste. Comments: I doubt the word pinchlet exists in English, but the whisky's pretty great, if a little austere.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Since we're doing 1996s…

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.9%, Dornoch Castle)

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.9%, Dornoch Castle) Four stars and a half
Good feelings once again. Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of gunpowder that do vanish quickly, then a very similar development as that of the Le Gus't. Chalk, beer, dough and stuff (S., remember, alliterations, especially unwanted ones, do kill). With water: barley, earth and yeast. Mouth (neat): extremely good and well in the same ballpark once again. Perhaps tenser and thicker. With water: some flamboyant mentholy citrus pushed it further towards the 90-line. A fino-y side, even. Finish: same. Ale. Comments: short note, great whisky. We're approaching perfection but I'm afraid it was a very small outturn. And a lovely label at that.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Arran 1999/2012 (56.5%, OB for Vinotek Massen, Luxemburg, bourbon, cask #85, 204 bottles)

Arran 1999/2012 (56.5%, OB for Vinotek Massen, Luxemburg, bourbon, cask #85, 204 bottles) Three stars and a half
Well, this is almost archaeology, even if Arran remains a 'new' distillery in my book. What 'silly boomers', I can hear you! Colour: light gold. Nose: barley and vanilla, maize bread, hay, and good beer. With water: yeasty bread. Nice. Mouth: good sweet apple juice, nougat, barley, touch of malt extract. Rather rougher than the others but this is both younger and done before the inception of 'total wood technology domination'. With water: no, it is creamier and sweeter. Barley water, triple sec, maple syrup, vanilla fudge. Finish: same with some herbal touches. Comments: it was very good 'already', back in 2012. For the sake of research.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

More archaeology…

Arran 1995/2019 (51%, OB, The 1995 Collection, Asia, hogshead, cask #360, 300 bottles)

Arran 1995/2019 (51%, OB, The 1995 Collection, Asia, hogshead, cask #360, 300 bottles) Two stars
Some fancy 'flat decanter' bottling, apparently. Not sure they really went noticed. Picture is that of another cask. Colour: deep gold. Nose: so a very early distillate, and still some roughness here and there, despite the many years. Roasted peanuts, molasses, malt, butterscotch, drops of soy sauce, balsamico, tobacco… Well if that's a hogshead, it's a sherry hogshead. With water: ale and fig chutney, perhaps. Old white wine. Mouth (neat): very creamy, on malt and kirsch, with a discrete soapy side, cologne, chocolate, cinnamon rolls… Well, there is some kind of imprecision to this one, but remember Arran only started burning in 1995 indeed. I remember very vividly the first drops we could try, we were all thinking, 'but why aren't they going for peated?' Another era… With water: these touches of soap do not quite belong here. Finish: medium, with a little cardboard and chestnut purée. Comments: perhaps more a prototype cask? In any case, it's just impressive that they would have improved and perfected their outputs this much. Anecdotal bottle.
SGP:461 - 75 points.

And now something bigger please…

Arran 9 yo 2008/2018 (57.3%, OB, Private Cask for LMDW, sherry hogshead, 312 bottles)

Arran 9 yo 2008/2018 (57.3%, OB, Private Cask for LMDW, sherry hogshead, 312 bottles) Two stars
How and why LMDW would be 'private', I don't know. But love you. Colour: mahogany. Nose: oh boy, pipe tobacco, maduro cigars, new tyres, old toolbox, the start line in Monaco right after the start (includes Verstappen - oh come on), Dutch liquorice (how convenient), Finnish tar liqueur, Swedish Ardbe… All right, you got the picture, I'm sure. With water: new linoleum, burning plastics, tyres, dead mouse (always a hit at WF Towers)… The Hells Angels better quaff this than Jack D.! Mouth (neat): ueber-heavy concoctiony arrival, we're almost quaffing walnut stain blended away with fracked oil and old sweeter balsamic vinegar from Modena. I mean real one, the stuff they put into the Ferraris. Would you have a mocha spoon for me? With water: it's too hard to get the amount of water you add right, we haven't gotten the whole evening. Finish: pipe juice and family-only young armagnac. And I know what I'm talking about.  Comments: fun stuff but I would say it's rather an exercise in style. Loch Dhu Cask Strength, perhaps… Just what the whisky world needed. Good fun indeed.
SGP:562 - 76 points.

I would say part 2 is over, but we might be back soon with more funny Arrans.

(Thank you Nicolas)

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