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Arran Port Cask Finish

To be, or not to be

5 982

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

19th Apr 2021

0

  • Nose
    20
  • Taste
    20
  • Finish
    21
  • Balance
    21
  • Overall
    82

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them.

Please don't run away or close your web browser; I promise I'm not going to bore you with an existential soliloquy, at least not today. Why bring up Shakespeare then? Well, Arran was, for a time, one of those "secrets" that wasn't on the mainstream whisky drinker's radar. As the better-known bloggers and vloggers started talking about Arran, the word got out. Arran became more popular, and rightly so. However, they're a younger distillery and they don't have billions of casks of mature whisky just stitting around. Arran was forced to make some tough decisions. The wonderful Arran 14 was discontinued, while many of Arran's Non Age Stated offerings remain available. The current Arran lineup contains about 8 NAS whiskies and 2 or 3 that carry an age statement. Arran suffered the slings and arrows of online backlash when these changes were announced. I was disapointed at first, but I'm not running the company.

The Port Cask offering from Arran doesn't carry an age statement, but Tweets and blurbs from the company suggest that most of the whisky is at least 8 years old. Of course, without an age statement we don't know for sure. The Arran website reads:

After initially maturing in traditional oak casks for approximately 8 years, The Arran Single Malt in this bottling was finished in a selection of Port casks sourced from an artisan producer of this iconic Portuguese fortified wine.

Approximately...aye, there's the rub. Anyhow, I can't be too picky about marketing verbiage since I've liked everything I've tried from Arran so far. Smell, taste, and texture are the most important things, are they not? For in that glass of whisky, what dreams may come...ok, I'm done with my literary pretensions.

Tasting notes

Neat from a Highland whisky glass

  • Nose: cinnamon, red apple skins, strawberry jam, orange zest, milk chocolate
  • Palate: sweet on arrival, full bodied, vanilla, malted barley,
  • Finish: medium length, vanilla, honey, cherries, orange zest

With water

  • Nose: the red fruits pop out first, with the malted barley/distillate becoming more assertive, there's less chocolate and orange now
  • Palate: very malty, more red fruits (especially strawberries),
  • Finish: a big hit of vanilla, honey, oak spice, and a slight grassiness that gives way to some lingering milk chocolate

Thoughts

This sample is from an older bottling of Arran, before they moved to the squat bottle with the chonky stoppers. I haven't tried a newer bottling, so I can't compare it to this, the older version. Arran Port Cask isn't currently available in Ontario, but sells for about $85 in Québec. I like this whisky, but would I pay that much for it? Probably not. I know, it's 50% abv, which means fewer bottles per batch. I understand the "why" but I'd still be loath to part with my whisky dollars for something I like but don't love. Your mileage may vary. There's a lot to like about Arran Port Cask. The wine finish doesn't overwhelm or dominate the malt and Arran's distilllate is terrific. This one doesn't open the heavens for me which makes scoring it a bit difficult. I'd definitely say try before you buy.

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9 comments

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

Well said. This wasn't my favorite Arran, but wasn't bad. I've still yet to have a bad Arran.

23 days ago 2Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@casualtorture I agree. I think the Glenmo 14 YO Quinta Ruban is better. The Arran has something musty going on in my bottle. I think @OdysseusUnbound is right on with the review and the score.

22 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@BlueNote I’ve only ever tasted the 12 Year QR at a Glenmorangie/Ardbeg tasting. I enjoyed it but I liked the Tomatin 14 Year Port Cask even more.

22 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

The Quinta Ruban is good on its own, but imagine it on steroids....That's Amrut Portonova...

22 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Nozinan I remember someone offering to get me a bottle of Amrut Portonova in Alberta for about $140 or so. I shied away from the price tag at the time. And then I tried it. And rated it a 92/100. D’OHHH !!!

21 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@OdysseusUnbound my favourite unintentionally and philosophically funny Chinese restaurant fortune cookie read, "Strike while the iron is". When the iron IS no longer, then one is completely unable to strike. In 2018 I made a VERY late play to pick up my only bottle of Amrut Portonova, together with a bottle of Amrut Intermediate Sherry Matured, which was my prime target. Looking back I can scarcely believe that I left a second bottle of Intermediate Sherry in that store that day. Yes, they were expensive, about US $140 each. That was the last train out. Very shortly thereafter there have been continuously zero bottles available of both Intermediate Sherry and Portonova in the DC area, and, basically, worldwide.

I understand both the practical and philosophical reasons why you are very reluctant to "overspend" on whiski. I am the same way. But, I can tell you, in this last 15 years of whiski history most of my best buys were ones with which I felt uncomfortable with the price at the time of purchase. Human beings tend to expect the future to resemble the present and the recent past. Sometimes the future is very different from the present and the recent past. When I look at wine-searcher.com's current average world asking price of $ 5,588 for Pappy Van Winkle 23 yo I remember wistfully those two bottles of it that sat in 2009-2010 for a year unsold on a liquor store shelf 1.5 miles from my house for $ 188 plus 6% tax each. They were sold only when the liquor store manager got disgusted and discounted them to $ 120 each. Then they sold within 90 minutes time. I would have paid the $ 127.20 each for them, but I was not informed of this deep discount. CARPE DIEM.

wine-searcher.com/find/…

21 days ago 3Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor I had the opportunity to pick up a variety of Octomores for $120-$130 around 2014-2015 but I had one bottle of the 4.1 (bought a year earlier for more) and "couldn't justify the expense".

As for your regret at leaving an IS on the shelf for $140 US, I have never paid that much for an Amrut. And the last time I found bottles, in 2019, I paid less than I had for any other IS bottles... There is some "cheap" unsulfured Sherried Amrut waiting for you in Toronto.

@OdysseusUnbound I would have balked at $140 for Portonova at the time as well. I've never paid more than about $115 for a bottle, getting my last bottle in 2018. I will be sure you get a healthy sample once I open my batch 6. That will depend on Covid because I want to open it with someone specific...

21 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nozinan bless your heart! I think often about that Amrut Intermediate Sherry in Toronto.

As for price, it is SOOOOO relative. It is easy to say "I would not pay THAT amount for that whiski" if you already have a great supply of it at a lower price. If it is a favourite and you have not been able to get it at all, THAT price may be fully acceptable. I put off getting a bottle of Portonova for about 3 or 4 years after I had tasted it. Why? Because I didn't like it quite as well as I liked Amrut Intermediate Sherry, AND the price was steep. I am glad that I bit the bullet and bought a bottle of it at the last minute that it was available to me.

OR maybe we will be blessed and Amrut will bring these great products back soon. I would call both Amrut Intermediate Sherry and Amrut Portonova "expensive, but worth it".

Noblesse oblige, @Nozinan. It is good to be gracious that you have been able to get your first class Amruts at outlier-low relative prices. I remember a Connosr member who posted a few years ago, "Why would I buy (this or that US) rye, when I can get Van Winkle 13 yo Rye for $ 40 per bottle?". The idea that he could continue to get Van Winkle Rye for $ 40 was a ridiculous and totally erroneous assumption.

wine-searcher.com/find/…

21 days ago 2Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@OdysseusUnbound Tomatin 14 yo Port Cask: I've heard that's a good 'un. On my short list as of now.

21 days ago 1Who liked this?

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