Arran Distillery is one of the newer distilleries in Scotland, having opened its doors in 1995. They’re a small-production family owned distillery, and they distinguish themselves by avoiding some of the industry ‘shortcuts’ commonly found in more mass-produced Scotches.
For example, many distilleries add caramel to give the liquid a richer, darker colour, as there is the belief that consumers associate better quality and taste with greater colour depth. Arran, on the other hand, does not artificially colour their whisky. Secondly, they do not use chilled filtration, another common practice used among some distilleries to create a richer and more vibrant colouring. Some in the industry believe that chilled filtration removes complexity from the drink as it filters out fatty acids and protein naturally occurring in the distillery process.
Arran originally broadly released a 12 year old drink which was well received, and has since been replaced with the 10 year old. Also commonly sold is the 14 year old as well as a cask strength scotch.
I’m really enjoying their 10 year old scotch, especially considering how affordable it is (just $49.95). On the nose there’s citrus, green apples, and you can practically taste the barley. On the pallet there’s a surprising amount of oak for such a young whisky, leading to a hint of smoke. This gives the dram nice notes of vanilla, allowing for the barley sweetness to come through. It’s a silky smooth scotch that has a sharpness to its finish that’s quick and not too sweet.
Compared to the Singleton, featured previously in the Whisky Cabinet, I would say it has a similar sharpness but a deeper complexity in terms of finish. The Singleton has a dried fruit finish, whereas this is sharper and citrusy in a way that’s not too intrusive. At the price point you really can’t go wrong, though I would recommend a few sips to get past the sharpness before you settle into it. If you have another $30 laying around, the 14 year old is a good option at $79.95. You’ll get a fruitier drink that’s not as sharp, with more emphasis on spiciness.
Note: Originally published on Spotlight Toronto