Arran 18, 46%

Woohoo! It’s here.

The new Arran 18 has been released over the last week and today it arrived in Krommenie at our local bottle shop. Jolanda, who owns the place got nine bottles and I sure as hell am happy about asking her to hold one for me, because they sold out in a few hours.

For a place with a big internet presence like The Whisky Exchange that wouldn’t be too much of an achievement but for a small town shop who mostly runs on locals it’s quite something. Kudos to Jolanda.

But, as said, she held one back for me and I went to pick it up for multiple reasons:

  1. It didn’t feel right to let it just sit there while she could’ve sold it easily
  2. I really felt like opening something cool
  3. I wanted it
  4. I’m hosting a tasting tomorrow in which this will be a highlight.

Arran distilled their first spirit in August of 1995, which means there can technically already be 19 year old spirit out and about, and there’s an SMWS one, but just one. Unfortunately for Arran, their 18 year old isn’t the first 18 year old Arran, but it is the first ‘generally available’ one. There have been some 16 others (according to Whiskybase, so there might be more) that already have a bottling out. The distillery released one last year as well, at 52%, for their Malts & Music festival in June.

But still, this thing was highly anticipated by quite some folks on the interwebz, and most likely even more that aren’t as prolific about their desires online as some of us are, me included.

There’s vanilla custard, with a thin dusting of baking spices and caramel. A hint of stewed apple and golden syrup and treacle. Honey too and a slight floral note behind it all. Straw too, all very well integrated and gentle.

The palate is drier than expected, and has more bite too. A dusty feel of toasted oak, with caramel candy, Scottish tablet and butterscotch. Treacle, latte machiato, golden syrup and apple strudel. Some almonds too, and brown sugar.

The finish goes back to the slightly stronger notes of vanilla I got on the nose, but the dryness stays, as does the dusty, toasted oak feel. It’s very warming and long with gorgeous notes of everything that came before.

This is a true milestone for the distillery. I love what they’ve done with the brand without going completely overboard. They were fooling around a bit much with cask finishes a decade ago, but that was born out of necessity. They’ve limited that significantly nowadays, but I keep finding that I much prefer the sherry and bourbon cask matured ones. The bourbon ones most, although this baby is a bit of a mix-up since it’s from sherry hogsheads, so sherry, from American oak.

The whisky then. It’s gorgeous. It’s absolutely delicious. It might not be the most complex 18 year old whisky around, but the flavors are all there and they’re all lovely. I love the baked apple, butterscotch combination. The vanilla notes are kept in check so this whisky doesn’t become, well, vanilla.

In short. If you have the chance of getting one, do yourself a favor and order it now, while there is still some left.

Arran 18, 46%. Prices vary from € 82.50 to € 100. Check for availability on Whiskybase

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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