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Arran distillery is only 15 years old, so a 14 year old can be seen as a milestone. On the long term, the core range should consist of a 10, 14 and 18 year old.
The 14 Year Old was re-racked into fresh bourbon barrels and fresh sherry hogsheads two years ago – two-thirds into American oak and one-third into European oak. They wanted the classic Arran sweet-fruity notes to shine through with the sherry very much in the background for depth and balance.
Nose: starts malty and clean but quickly there’s a burst of fresh fruits: citrus, peaches, caramelized apples, some melon and berries. Nice hints of buttercups in the background. Hints of sweet oak with whiffs of vanilla and coconut as well. Cleaner than the 12yo, very rounded and really nice. There’s a nice interplay between sherry and bourbon influence (reminiscent of the Arran Peacock). It doesn’t need water, but a few drops make the citrus stand out.
Mouth: creamy attack, initially less sweet than I thought it would be. Also more oak than expected. Malty centre with hints of citrus and pears. Obvious vanilla. Developing more spicy notes towards the end, nutmeg and light pepper.
Finish: medium length, slightly biscuity with barley sugar and lingering spices.
I've never been a big fan of the Arran wine finishes, but lately they've been releasing some very interesting naked whisky. First Arran Peacock, now this one... Where will they stand in another 15 years?