Arran 19yo 1996/2016 “The Chosen One” (54.7%, OB, Limited Edition, for Whiskysite.nl, Sherry Hogshead #1390, 312 bottles)

One of the finer places to buy Whisky in the Netherlands is Whiskysite based in the town of Leiden. Excellent, wonderful looking store, good people, fair prices and a very handy Website which services the whole world. For me one of the go-to places. The same guys also host a Whisky festival called Whisky in Leiden. This years edition is next saturday on april 1st. No joke. If you are interested, I’m sure they will have room for you next year since this years edition is long sold out. Just like any real good festival, or retailer, the guys have special bottlings done for them. One of last years bottlings was a very old Arran. I can still remember Arran starting up, and here we have already a 19yo example of the Malt. I’m getting old.

Color: Gold.

Nose: First sniff and I’m guessing Fino Sherry casks. Nice Sherry note combined with nuts and wood. Mocha and a sweeter component in the background. Chewy toffee. As I said before, I never was a big fan of Fino cask Whiskies but just like Rhum Agricoles it is an acquired taste, and today, wow, I get it. They are very special. Vanilla and dried lemon powder, in part like in artificial sweets. Hints of high winds at sea, combined with cold dish water. Strange èh? But in reality not strange at all. Hints of wood come next, as well as some pencil shavings with floral notes and wood from cigar boxes. This smells very distinguished and luxury. Next a layer of cold fruitiness. Green and red apple skins, dried apricots and some dried basil as well. Sweet yoghurt. A promise of some fruity sweetness. Crushed beetle and rotting flower bulb, both a childhood memory. I’m sorry for the animal, I only did it once, by accident. Well balanced and none of the aromas presented here are overpowering. A quiet Arran. Toned down. Whispering. A sort of connoisseurs Whisky maybe. You need some experience to discover it all, as well as appreciate it fully. I hope I don’t sound arrogant now. If you are a novice, please buy it if you come across it, but wait a few years before opening it.

Taste: Half sweet and spicy. Nice wood-notes and soft nevertheless. Sweet fruit yoghurt. The stuff with peaches in it. White peach with a spicy bite. Warming. Mocha and hard coffee candy. Butterscotch and some aspartame sweetness. Pencil shavings. Again, well-balanced stuff and very tasty. If this would have been 5% lower in ABV, this would be dangerously drinkable and you’d finish the bottle way too quickly. Now it is slightly hot, which makes you appreciate it better and follow it up with a different Whisky. It’s almost as if the sweetness and the dryness of the wood are competing. one sip, and one manages to get all the attention, and in the next sip the other. Hints of Belgian Beer towards the finish. The finish itself is quite long.

Good cask strength Whisky from a nice (Fino) cask. No typical distillery character if you ask me, but also no particular aroma that manages to take the lead. Well balanced but with nothing really sticking out, making for a bit anonymous yet well-balanced Whisky.

Points: 86

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Arran “Amarone Cask Finish” (50%, OB, Violet label, Circa 2012)

Here is the second Arran on these pages. Earlier I reviewed a pretty good 16yo and usually Single cask bottlings at Cask Strength are very good to. When they start to fiddle a bit with their Whiskies I tend to not like Arran that much any more. So I don’t have high hopes for this funky colored Amarone finished Arran…

Arran Amarone Cask Finish (50%, OB, Violet label, Circa 2012)Color: Salmon (Somewhere between orange, bronze, light red and pink). Very strange.

Nose: Malty and very winey. Wine gums. We know its Amarone wine, but it smells more like a less fruity, Ruby Port. Fruity and dusty, woody and vegetal. This is hardly Whisky, but it isn’t wine either. Very simple and the wine overpowers everything. It’s hard to discern anything. No sense in nosing this any further.

Taste: Sweet, milk chocolate mousse, hard fruity candy, but not wine gums. Pretty harsh. To sweet for my taste and its a bit anonymous. What is it actually? The finish has staying power, but is a bit, ehhh, unpleasant for my taste. Funky, but not terrible. Don’t get me wrong.

Yet not uncommon, this is more or less one of the strangest colored Whiskies of late You don’t expect to have Whisky in your glass as long as you don’t smell it. Actually the smell isn’t quite characteristic for a Single Malt either. The Amarone wine dominates the color, but not the nose and for the taste, well, you be the judge. I would recommended this to a bartender, because to me it seems an excellent spirit for a summery cocktail. Something has to be done with this…

Points: 74