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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.
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
- 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
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.