Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Isle of Arran 9 yo
Single Cask Single Malt Whisky
It is hard to believe, but the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is really not as pretentious or pompous as some of its members like to think. Sure, it is a members club, with private members rooms and membership fees, all of which can be objectionable to egalitarian whisky folk, but whether you are a member or not, walk through a society venue door and if any staff treats you with a lack of respect and kindness, I will buy you a dram. Seriously. Sure, like I said, there are assholes everywhere, but anyone who works there or knows what the society is about will be kind, friendly and helpful. Guaranteed. That, and they host some of the greatest tastings in the UK, bottle some absolutely killer malts, rums, and ciders, and have one of the comfiest drinking venues in the world at the Vaults in Leith, Scotland.
The society uses a number system to classify their whiskies both to protect the integrity of the distilleries as brands and to encourage the exploration of under-appreciated or stigmatised distilleries. 121 is Arran, and they have managed to bottle some great expressions from this young distillery, 20 to be exact, which is what the second number in the classification represents.
Their description for this bottling, written by Robin Laing with the help of the noses and imaginations of the society tasting panels, reads as follows:
"This distillery is situated in the picturesque village of Lochranza, on the island commonly described as ‘Scotland in miniature’. A refill sherry butt has given this dram a dark wood colour. The wonderfully complex nose takes time to develop with overripe fruits, salt, oil and roasted coffee. With water there are marmalade notes, vanilla fudge and cloves. In the mout h it is pleasantly warm and spicy, with lots of vanilla and woody notes. With water it’s comforting with Demerara sugar and fresh mint. There is also a long chewy finish with a hint of sulphur. This is a perfectly balanced dram, ideal for an Indian summer."
For more info and past expressions tasted on the mission, click HERE.
Tasted one morning in Edinburgh a few weeks ago while staying with Claire and Ran. Thanks, guys.
Warming, buttery sherry tones, with toffee and cream, orange rind, raisins and raw oats. Peppery spice beneath.
Honey, spice, fresh plums and a real oak presence. Woody, indeed. Flavour curve from buttery sweetness becoming leafy with dry sherry notes, and getting drier and drier. Water brings out an impression of the outhouse by the lake, toffee, but still really drying.
United flavours, concentrated but lacking substance. But the delicacy that I love about Arran is overpowered, especially on the palate. Sherry dries beyond my comfort level and makes the whole experience quite one-dimensional. Great first impressions that only get more disappointing with time and/or water. But hey, I am not a sherry freak. I am certain this would be right up someone's alley. The SMWS tasting panel thought it was well balanced, so who am I to talk?
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