Island of Arran is a large Scottish island that was once a Viking stronghold. The last distillery on the island dates back to 1837, and previous to that there were estimated to be over fifty active distilleries on the island. The 19th century wasn't overly kind to the island, though. Due to many factors (known as the clearances), the population severely decreased as people moved mainland. Today, there are just five-thousand residents on the island. They have one distillery.
Harold Currie founded Arran Distillery in the 1990s, and the distillery started operations in 1995. Mr. Currie was a decorated World War II veteran, and had a passion for whisky and football. He explored both passions throughout his life. After leaving Chivas, he formed the distillery when he was in his 70s. He passed away in March of 2016.
Arran distillery is known for its light-style single malt scotch. It's non-chill filtered, and typically bottled at 46% ABV minimum. That runs counter-culture to the big distilleries (Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, etc.) that rarely go much above 43% ABV.
The Cask Strength variety is not watered down, and this one happens to be bottled at 52.9% ABV. Each batch will have a slightly different alcohol content depending on the barrels of whisky that went into the single malt scotch. From a purely romanticized sense, this cask strength single malt scotch is the heart of Arran. It's a great example of a scotch where delicate whisky doesn't need to be simple.
Arran Cask Strength 12 Year Old Batch 5 (52.9%)
Category: Single malt scotch, 12 Year Old, Cask Strength
Nose: Rich honey, caramel, light citrus, and some dark chocolate notes. Rich buttery goodness from start to finish, like cake batter that's about to go into the oven. The spice notes are a medley of pepper, nutmeg, and other less identifiable elements, complimented by tart and sweet green apple notes.
Palate: A bite of charred smoke, vanilla, caramel, and a hit of oak spice. The finish is long, though not without fault. It has some harshness that comes through. It's a fine-line between character-forward punchy whiskies and those that are overly sharp.
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have in its category
It's a beautiful expression of Arran Malt Single Malt Scotch aged for 12 years at cask strength. Punchy, bright, and oak spice forward, it's an aggressive charmer. It's easy to find this one a little too high-proof, but if that's the case, a few drops of water will fix that right up.
*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆ Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★ Extraordinary, memorable, and original