They’ve got the look. Now they need to make the scotch to match.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Arran. Like Edradour and a few others, they tend to make pretty decent scotch that flies consistently under the radar. I imagine this has much more to do with marketing budgets than anything else though. But now Arran is making a bit of a noise, suddenly out of nowhere they’ve now got some pretty excellent and highly individual and recognisable packaging and you can feel the self confidence exuding from the brand from this change. Arran wants your attention.
On the nose this is coming out the glass with heat and fruit. A big, deep sniff and it engulfs the senses, an abundance of dark sherry and dried fruits coat a freshly sawn pile of wood. Cedar wood and oak and a little pine sap. It feels a little rough and ready, young even. There’s cocoa, a sour note, some ginger and a bitter wood note too. Overall it’s a powerful, forceful nose but ultimately a little frustrating. The sherry and the red fruits and the varnish character completely squash the spirit and unlike, say Macallan 12 sherry wood, it feels a in need of a bit of a polish.
In the mouth it’s really the same as the nose. Initially the arrival is sweet, sherry unloads all its dark fruits and spices with a bang, then wood follows with nice warm tannins. There’s ginger and cocoa and milk chocolate and red liquorice. But it’s hot. Hot and boozy. The pepper and ginger and wood accentuates the mouth heat from the spirit making it feel a little wild and unrestrained. You get a feeling that it would be better either at a lover ABV or a little longer in the cask.
So, overall not bad. It lacks finesse but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a bit hot and young feeling, but it could easily be improved. It feels a little simple and rough around the edges but it shows the confidence Arran has in their distillery. It’s not up to the same standard as the sherry masters like Glendronach, Glenfarclas or Macallan but it’s a great new beginning for them. So for now, it’s a case of living up to the promise of the new packaging, with a few tweaks I think they’ll easily get there.