Single malt scotch has undergone a number of changes since 1996 when this whisky was distilled and barrelled. Ex-sherry cask finishes are all the rage these days. They’re typically have the sweetness of dried fruit, spicy cinnamon notes, and dry sherry undertones. But that wasn’t the case in the 1990s. This whisky is a look at the past, with a take on the future.
The Arran Distillery started distillation in 1995. This whisky reviewed here started its journey just a year after that. No one knew this barrel would be destined for the Ontario market. This is an old-school sherry hogshead matured scotch. An old sherry hogshead finish is about the buttery and citrus forward. Today’s sherry bombs are all about cinnamon spice and sweet dried fruits. The familiar sugar and cinnamon notes are here in this 20 year old whisky, but as a quiet addition. This isn’t a sherry bomb. It’s a classic from the 90s. It’s better than any of the last Port Ellen’s released that I’ve tasted (classic Port Ellen’s are still great, though!).
Whereas most scotch is a blend of many (hundreds!) of barrels to even out any imperfections, a single cask needs to stand out on its own. It’s an opportunity to taste a barrel without any alteration. It’s especially rare to have an individual cask from a whisky that’s twenty-plus years old. Barrels this old aren’t just left around longer. It’s rare that a cask of whisky will last this long without evaporation depreciating the product. More commonly, the oak overpowers the whisky. Individual barrels of whisky that last this long are rare, and this is indeed a rare find.
The Arran Limited Edition Single Cask 20-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky - 54.9% 96/12266 Sherry H/H
The Arran Distillery
Category: Single Malt Scotch, Single Barrel, Sherry Hogshead
Nose: Strong Arran character, with beautiful zest, dried fruit notes, butter, and cinnamon.
Palate: Brown sugar, cinnamon, butter. Great lemon notes. High tannins and acidity. Great spicy that hits the back of the throat especially nicely. Oily, the best of olive oil sort of oily, with an incredible finish that lasts and lasts. This one never settles down. It keeps giving.
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have in its category An interesting cask. The nose is straight-forward with everything that’s great about The Arran Distillery. It’s heavier, heftier, and more intense. The palate is concentrated, and beautifully balanced for a single cask, and it lasts for hours on the palate. The finish is insane. If you have a few hundred dollars to spend on whisky, and you love single malt scotch, and you appreciate old single barrels of whisky, then rush to the LCBO and buy this. For those that know about The Arran Distillery, and about their twenty year old scotch aged in sherry hogsheads, you’ve probably already made this purchase.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by The Arran Distillery from a slightly earlier point in time from bottling. There were no expectations set for this sample, and the review remains independent. The sample was also an early release, so there might be some chances in the whisky before final bottling.
*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