Arran 21st Anniversary Limited Edition Review

“Fighting Spirit”

Whisky Review # 661

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Arran
Brand: Arran 21st Anniversary Limited Edition (Special Release)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 52.6%
Maturation: Sherry Casks   
Chill Filtration: No    
Price Range: US Dollars 200-250 (November 2017)
Buying Advice: 😏 Not bad but too expensive. Go for the 18 Years! 

Colour: Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose: Sherry casks without any doubt. Some New Wood as well I think as I pick up this typical Varnish note I always find in West-European mainland Malt. A distant hint of Sulphur but nothing serious. Sweet and Sour notes are both present on the Nose. I find Toasted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Pear, Sweet Apple, Orange, Mandarin, Mango-Chutney, Pineapple in Heavy Syrup, Raisins, Heather-Honey, Wax, Hazelnuts (Nutella), Dusty Road, Chocolate Milk (Chocomel), Ginger, Nutmeg, light Pepper, Lemongrass and Mint. Distant hints of Green Vegetables, Wet Paper, Armagnac and Tobacco. It's a bit of a mixed bag and while it's not bad, I miss a bit of direction and balance. The Alcohol is reasonably well-integrated though.

Beautiful Arran - May 2017

Palate: Strong Delivery thanks to the more than adequate ABV. Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Vanilla, Marzipan, Red Apple, Pear, Orange, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Peach, Hazelnuts (Nutella), Dark Chocolate, Espresso, Tobacco, Oak, Sultanas, Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Dried Herbs and Dirt Track. The Oak is quite strong by now.                

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Quite Dry and Tannic. Some Bitter notes towards the end. The Oak is even more present at this stage. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Vanilla, Sweet Apple, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Marzipan, Dark Chocolate, Assorted Nuts (Almonds, Hazelnut), Espresso, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Tobacco, Dried Herbs and hints of Varnish, Sulphur, Rhubarb and Peach-Flavoured Yogurt.  

Drinking Advice:
I added a little Water and the Alcohol retreats of course. But although this Arran gets more Creamy on the Palate, it's just not the same Whisky anymore. I often wonder if I should continue adding Water to the Whiskies I review. Sure, you may get some additional Flavours and/or Aromas but you change the character of the Whisky as presented by the Makers. If you have any thoughts on this issue, please let me know!
Rating: 85.5 

Nose: 21 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

Arran Distillery was founded by Harold Currie in 1993 and started production in 1995. Business is going so well that the owners (Isle of Arran Distillers) are in the process of building another distillery (Lagg) on the Southern part of Arran that will probably take care of the peated expressions. Production of this new distillery could start in 2018. The Arran core range now consists of the 10, 14 and 18 Years as well as the NAS Whiskies Robert Burns, Lochranza Reserve and Machrie Moore. We visited this distillery in May this year and absolutely loved it. Great tour, very friendly people, a nice shop and a good lunch restaurant. I can fully recommend a visit more so as the isle of Arran is a very nice and relatively quiet place. 

In June 2016, the distillery celebrated its 21st birthday, a.o. by launching the Whisky I'm reviewing today. It's a limited edition and only 5988 bottles went for sale. It's a NAS Whisky but it was made by vatting selected casks from the first three years of production (1995, 1996, 1997). This special release was bottled at Cask Strength.

Visit May 2017
🍷  The Spirit 

The average fermentation time at Arran is 60 hours. The Distillery operates four Stills. The Lyne arms are practically straight and produce a Light, Sweet, Fruity Spirit. The Water is sourced from Loch na Davie. The current Master-Distiller is James MacTaggart who just celebrated his 10th anniversary with Arran.

Visit May 2017
🌲  The Wood:

The Whisky used to compose this Limited Edition matured 100% in Ex-Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads.

Drinking Experience: Good. I expected more though.

ConclusionI like this Distillery and their concept but this Limited Edition is not among my favourite Arran expressions although it's not bad. But it lacks balance and cohesion. It's almost as Wood and Spirit didn't really come to terms with each other. Maybe the Arran Spirit is too Gentle to mature in 100% Ex-Sherry casks. Who knows! In any case this Arran, while not bad, is way too expensive for what it offers. My advise would be to leave this baby alone and go for the 18 Years instead.   

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 23, 2017

Visit May 2017

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