Thanks to /u/devoz for sharing a sample of this dram. You giant pile of poop who I’m glad to call a friend.
I try my best to avoid situations that make me feel out of touch and old. Personally I feel like Generation Z is amazing and alright. I try my best to look up new music and try it out. If I start misunderstanding a new or different idea, I examine it.
I try the same for my hobbies too. While I may have enough of my preferred Dungeons & Dragons edition books to last me until I forget what a d20 is at all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t at least keep up with new releases.
What about Whisky, that thing I’m looking for discussion about in a Scotch review? Well a few years ago I heard fellow whisky nerds loving Arran. And while the Arran hype has died down a bit, to the point where I no longer have to worry about a particular nutjob on Twitter hunting me down and force feeding me it, there are still diehard fans who are new to whisky that love Arran.
So back then I hunted down as many Arran samples as possible. 33 of them, in fact. By the end I had figured out that the mixture of orange and dusty/musty notes weren’t my thing, and then stupidly stated I could pick out Arran blind all the time.
I’m not great at foresight, no. My lack of humility was met with blind Arran offerings, including one home smoked with hickory and lapsang souchong. Yeah, I can’t figure out whisky blind, and should stop chasing waterfalls.
Enter Arran 9 2012 North Star Spirits, a recent young single cask release aged in a Oloroso Sherry Barrel. It was poured blind. Did I figure it out? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $150 AUS
Cask type: Oloroso Sherry Barrel
No. of bottles: 210
Colour: 10YR 7/8
Nose: Cinnamon, tree sap, celery seed, cloves Spicy, some interesting woody/sweet/pine notes, some odd vegetal, and then more spice.
So let’s see: No orange, no musty note, and it’s sherry. The celery seed note is really odd. The tree sap I’ve encountered in some Highlands? No salt at the moment either.
Taste: Cream, rhubarb, cloves, parsley, orange
Okay, we have some orange eventually, so I should have picked up on that. But it’s nowhere near the main star of the dram. It’s like the backup grip on the montage set.
No, more vegetal, more cream, and some spice/earth/leaf notes. Interesting. I’m starting to think it’s a sherry cask, the complexity isn’t super old but is nice, and I’m getting Highland vibes. Of course, all of this is wrong, and I’m setting myself up like I’m asking for bribes for the next World Cup.
Finish: Celery, mineral, pineapple, caramel/toffee, tropical fruit
Earth, and a strong hit of mineral. Nice complexity, a good hit of tropical fruit. Really reminds me of an Old Pulteney single cask, with the salt, some earth, rich and tropical fruity.
I’m thinking I got this. No orange, no mustiness, obvious sherry casks, not overly sherried, and the mineral note nails it for me. And I’m wrong, but I like this.
Conclusion: A whisky that is quite tasty and has some good complexity going on. It’s very, very different from the distillery, and if you’re looking for more Arran because you like Arran while you have more Arran, then this isn’t your Arran. Also, Arran.
It drinks above its age, it’s not over sherried, it is unique, and it’s easy to sip on and has a lovely finish. I love Old Pulteney single casks, and this comes close to very good ones I’ve had.
So yeah, if you’re like me and feel you’ve had all there is to come from Arran, there’s this release. Grab it. It’s a good whisky.
Guess: Sherry cask, Highland, Old Pulteney, 14-17 year, 54%
Actually: Arran 9 2012 North Star Spirits
Scotch review #1577, Island review #170, Whisky Network review #2301