Arran SMWS 121.76 “Close shave from a tipsy barber”

Arran SMWS 121.76 “Close shave from a tipsy barber” 2.png

Thanks to Tim W. for pouring me this sample.

So we start ramping up. Because for this year’s Advent Calendar, put together by my wife, each one is supposed to be stronger than the last. Luckily I have a working liver.

Ha! Take that non-liver people!

So we’re onto Advent Day #16. Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Arran SMWS 121.76 “Close shave from a tipsy barber” 1.jpg

Price: Sold out

Region: Island

Date Distilled: July 2002

Age: 12-years-old

Cask Type: Refill barrel

Outturn: 210 bottles

Abv: 57.9%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Bready, earthy, pear, brine

Pro-tip when reading my reviews: The more words that end in Y that don’t need to I use, the less focused the flavour is.

Ha! Takes that inanimate objects I consume!

So there’s some cereal/yeast, some earth, mostly pear and brine. Looking back I should have noted the brine and figured my shit out better, but here we are. It came out last.

Taste: Pear, chipotle, caramel/butter, grass

Hot, and eventually the grass element takes over completely. Yeah, you still get the others, but this is coming off as kinda boring. And hot. Like every single one of our first crushes.

Ha! Take that initial feelings before we matured and understood attraction!

Finish: Brine, cumin, black pepper, banana, menthol Finish doubles down on the grass, but it’s more those grasses/plants that we use to spruce up flavours. That teams up with the heat and overwhelms me.

But hey, here’s a banana.

Ha! Take that, me… Wait…

Conclusion: Herbal, hot, and herbal. More herbal as you drink it. The nose is barely there, even at full strength. Sipping it leads to a very generic profile that’s then taken over by the heat, the grass, and the herbs eventually.

This is a skip from me. I know now it’s an Arran, but guessing it was not easy. There’s nothing in the initial or even secondary, or tertiary notes. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Arran needs to embrace different casks like Bruichladdich did because their whisky shines when they do.

This? This is a sign that they needed to get rid of something and didn’t want to pour it in a new cask.


Guess: Speyside, ex-bourbon, 46%, 10 years old

Actually: Arran SMWS 121.76 “Close shave from a tipsy barber”

So the name comes from a tasting note, and I get it. This whole thing was boozy-as-fuck and the ending menthol reminds you of a barbershop. So at least the name is accurate. But seriously this wasn’t my favourite of any Arrans I’ve had and cements my thoughts on where they are at and where I’d like to see them go.

Scotch review #1074, Island review #120, Whisky review #1673

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