Arran. We recently discussed my need to feel “not old” by having more of it, and then being an old man whisky drinker as I throw canes at children on my whisky lawn because I don’t like it as much as them.
Caught up? Short version: I’m old. Actually I just don’t love Orange notes that much and typically enjoy Arran in weird casks, which they’ve paired back compared to previous years. Also I drank too many of them in a row, because I took advice from tech bros to gamify your life and that was dumb.
That all said, we have to remember that Arran is a young distillery. Not Auchroisk young (1970s), we’re talking New World young (Clinton was in office when they established).
There’s also the fact that Arran is based on who’s picking it. Ignoring the parts of a distillery that matter (how it’s made and how it tastes and if you can even obtain it), hats off to Arran for getting out there. Single casks abound, tons of options, and lots of cask differences.
So when I review Arran 21 1997 Limited Edition The Green Welly Stop Exclusive (takes a deep mental breath after that sprint), I’m reviewing Arran made near the start of the distillery’s founding and also what the Green Welly Stop thought was a good idea.
Do I agree with whomever picks things for the Green Welly Stop? No idea, as I keep reading about a family restaurant and boot seller in the middle of Scotland. Been in business since 1963. Pretty cool. They may have a worker who knows whisky. Or maybe they just asked Arran to send a cask.
Then we have an Arran from a time when they were still figuring things out. In comparison to other distilleries, some would even point out they are still figuring things out.
So another 21-year-old Arran that was aged in an ex-Sherry cask. How does it taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Vintage: June 9, 1997
Bottled: September 5, 2018
Cask type: Sherry Butt
Cask number 841
No of bottles: 531
Bottled for: The Green Welly Stop
Colour: 2.5Y 8/10
Nose: Clementine, roast corn, green apple, creme brulee
Vegetal, some smoke/roast notes, some apple and sweet citrus, and then a custard/burnt sugar element. Very nice. Not totally in the wheelhouse of other Arran: Not as tropical as others but it has some of that fattiness to it.
It’s actually closer in profile to Glenfiddich given the amount of green apple, but that’s just one thing, I’m sure that won’t continue.
Taste: Brown sugar, apple, lemon, butter, lemon pith
Alright. No orange, no dustiness, not tropical, there is lemon and that shows up, and the butter is sticking around. But no dustiness or mineral notes either.
Yeah, it’s giving me Glenfiddich vibes. Not a bad thing, ever, because that distillery has been around awhile and I am a fan, but it’s just odd. Not tasting the age either.
Finish: Green apple, mineral, burnt sugar, lime pith
Short finish. Very short. On the other hand, some of the mineral, so that’s setting this apart. It’s still very green apple and bitter, and the char is back, but it’s all gone very quick.
The pith really starts to ramp up here. Before there was enough sugar, but now with the burnt note and green apple it becomes very strong. I’m averse to bitterness, so may not throw others off as much.
Conclusion: Tastes like Arran were trying to make a Glenfiddich. Take that as a compliment or not. Bit too much pith, bitter notes, but I have a hard time with bitter notes probably due to a whole bunch of ancestors who really hated being poisoned. I believe they call that group a conspiracy.
It’s not a bad whisky, and for something you’re buying alongside rubber boots at a restaurant that I really want to try (50 year old Scottish recipes? I’m in), not bad. Good for them for having something to serve that has their name on it.
For a whisky nerd? It’s not as complex as the age denotes. If anything I’d say this is more of Arran distillery’s initial batch that was left to age to see what it did. So if you’re looking for something like that, it’s a nice pick.
Scotch review #1581, Island review #172, Whisky Network review #2305