Some 10 years ago, I reviewed the official 16yo (bottled at 46% ABV) and quite liked it. Back then it scored 87 points which is quite a good score. Here we have another 16yo from the distillery itself. The Un-Official almost 17th? Surely they mean The Un-Official almost 17yo? Nevermind. Since the 2013 review, I also came across some reasonable Arran’s but nothing really cached my eye and for me personally Arran slipped into the darkness of oblivion a bit. Fast forward some years and in comes this Arran Batch 3, I reviewed a year ago. That one did the trick of bringing Arran back into the (lime)light again. Batch 3 made me look into Arran again, and in stead of going to the shops, I went for some single cask versions at my favourite German auction. Sherry Hogshead #1997/525 is one of those auction lots…
Color: Copper gold, slightly hazy.
Nose: Nutty Sherry. Freshly made alcoholic toffee or runny caramel used for ice-cream. Toffee backed up by super ripe yellow fruits and still green, starting to become yellow, banana’s. So not really unripe banana’s then. Peaches also come to mind a lot. Dusty. Fresh oak. Well balanced, It may be simple (is it?), yet all these aroma’s go together quite well. Also, it smells like it will taste quite sweet and fruity. We’ll see about that later. Hints of polished furniture. Again fruity and sweet smelling. Cocktail cherries. Diluted red fruit syrup. Sometimes a whiff of a more fresh and minty aroma passes by. Come to think of it, this one does have an aura of old skool Sherried Whisky about it, which I quite like. Hmmm, I also got some old skool in Batch 4. More soft, actually very soft wood and some cardboard. Almost no cask toast, I mention this because there can be a lot of this in Sherried Whiskies. More syrup and now a fresh butter note, adding to the balance, because this is a pleasant smelling Whisky. Sometimes a whiff of sea-air and after some extensive sipping, a more friendly and nice floral detergent note pops up, not a really soapy note, which usually is somewhat more negatively perceived (by me). Yup, nice stuff. Very nice indeed.
Taste: Sweet Sherry and vanilla. Apple pastry, very much so. This surprises me a bit, since I didn’t pick up on apples in the nose (and still don’t). Apple compote. Apple beignets, including the dough. Luckily not to sweet. Nutty and waxy. Some wood in the beginning, but only the more astringent bit of it stays behind on my tongue, the rest of the woody notes are soon overpowered by the vanilla and the toffee ice-cream note, as well as the aforementioned fruit and some freshly baked cookies. After a while the astringent bit I just mentioned, turns into something somewhat bitter. Medium bitterness from wood, as well as from some licorice notes. After some proper tasting, and smelling, this does remind me of old skool (making me feel melancholic) Whisky. In the review of Arran 16yo I mentioned the potential Arran has and that I hope it would someday really show it, well here it is. What a wonderful Arran this turned out to be.
Arran seems to me to be a Malt that shows what it’s got right out of the gate. Well balanced and nice, yet less of a layered kind of malt or one with a substantial development in your glass. This one is no exception. It shows you what its got and thus lacking some development and complexity. Nevertheless, what it does have is very good. So I’m not complaining. There is definitely room for instant gratification Malts on my lectern. It might be me again, but for me, the second half of the bottle seemed better than the first half, so again one that needs to breathe a lot. Usually I review a Whisky I own myself halfway through, this is again a Whisky that went quicker than I thought, so I had to review it before it’s gone. Ain’t that a recommendation for ya!?
This Arran, in a way, seems to be a companion to the Highland Park 14yo I just reviewed. The Highland Park is almost overly complex, whereas this Arran is not. They differ a lot yet also have quite some similarities. Due to the complexity, the Highland Parks scores slightly better, but Arran isn’t any worse. The Highland Park you have to work, this one is as laid back and easy as they come. This Arran will always welcome you with open arms, where the Highland Park is essentially a grumpy git. Arran by now has gained yet another fan. I love the melancholy around this one, reminding me of Whiskies I tasted a long time ago…