In an industry that puts so much weight on heritage and history, the Arran Distillery is an outlier. Compared to nearby island distillery heavyweights Laphroaig and Lagavulin (founded 1815 and 1816, respectively), the Arran Distillery (founded 1995) is still in its infancy. In spite of its age, however, the distillery has made considerable headway into the industry, with production nearing that of Ardbeg. The distillery excels not just in volume, but also in variety, offering a standard 10 year release, the “Robert Burns Single Malt,” and a large variety of single cask offerings among others. One of these others is the 100 proof, which we’re reviewing today.
I’m always slightly reticent to read the tasting note provided by the manufacturer, as they’re usually vague and misleading. However, Arran’s description of the 100 Proof is anything but vague. Here it is:
Colour: Polished Copper
Aroma: Intense fruitiness with a burst of citrus – Seville oranges, lemon rind & lime – giving way to sweet apples, pear and rich vanilla. The array of aromas on display is underpinned by a delightful barley sugar character.
Palate: A true blast of fresh island character with a full-bodied, oily edge which coats the palate. A splash of water allows a host of spicy-sweet flavours to emerge with honey, toffee and ginger all pulling the strings. Rich, malty and magnificent!
Finish: Complex and enduring. The Arran Malt in concentrated form with bags of charisma to entice and engage in equal measure. What time does the next ferry for Arran leave?
So the question being begged is… do we agree? The nose is very mellow for a 100 proof, not nearly “intense” as they suggest, but rather gentle and balanced. Definite vanilla and fruit, specifically pear. Some soapiness in the nose as well… Irish Springs? The expected 100 proof sting is there on the palate accompanied by an oily mouth feel, with added bite on the finish. Overall this is not as intense a whisky as we expected, and lacks the intrigue of, say, the Octomore, which we had happened to taste prior to this. Definitely give this whisky a try, but don’t expect anything too crazy. And if it’s not your favourite, at least you can claim to have had a dram from a distillery inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II herself.