Arran 2004/2012 'Bere Barley' (46%, OB, Orkney Bere) Colour: straw. Nose: lovely! Bags of fresh zesty fruits, lemon, gooseberries, yellow peaches (not the sweet juicy ones), with a grainy/cerealy side that’s well there in the background but also rather less ‘invading’ than in Bruichladdich’s no-less excellent bere, as far as I can remember. I have to say this fruity freshness comes as a surprise to me. There are also lovely touches of fresh herbs, angelica, dill, citronella, verbena, lemongrass… Lovely lovely! Maybe even a little caraway. Mouth: excellent! More character now, more spices, always these zesty touches, a lovely creaminess, various honeys, touches of ginger, caraway again, vanilla, a slight earthiness, probably agaves, even sugar cane, chamomile… All much to my liking. This malt never stops unfolding, which usually happens more with (much) older whiskies. Also superb notes of citrons and grapefruits. Excuse me, but wow! Finish: long, superbly fresh and clean, zesty of course, with an expectedly spicier aftertaste. Maybe an excellent curry? Comments: I’m so sad I couldn’t do a head-to-head with the Bruichladdich. It’s impossible for me to tell you which I like best, so same score! I think the Arran is a little easier and a notch sweeter, but it’s also bottled at a lower strength (the Laddie’s at 50% vol.) Oh, and sadly, I haven’t got any of Michel Couvreur’s Bere either. Maybe you know that Michel Couvreur passed away on August 17 this year. RIP!SGP:461 – 90 points.