The Dark Lord vs. The White Wizard

While the title might not make sense to most of you, this will ring bells within the parts of Holland that like Arran.

Back in 2014 the Dutch importer of the brand, Van Wees, released these two bottlings at the same time. I completely missed it somehow and they never hit a shelf in any liquor shop. They were that popular.

Luckily, at the same time there was a whisky festival in IJmuiden and I got to taste them there, and the host of the festival (who is also the owner of the local bottle shop)  had a few stashed away. He was willing to split with one of each bottle based on me not speculating with them.

Arran has since become very popular in The Netherlands with the importer releasing two more single casks, and a lot of festivals and shops doing private casks. I even believe there’s another one coming up soon for the Whisky in Leiden festival in April. At least, there were hints for it.

As you might have guessed based on the names of the bottlings, The White Wizard is a bourbon cask and The Dark Lord is a sherry cask. As with most Arran bottlings, the sherry cask is a hogshead, so there’s American oak involved.

Arran, The White Wizard, 14yo, 56.7%
On the nose this one’s slightly spirity with rather crisp bourbon cask influence. There’s lemon and vanilla cream. White oak and apple. Sharp and slightly spicy.

The palate is a tad sharp and dry with apple, oak, lemon and vanilla. Quite creamy. White oak, dry and white pepper.

The finish really makes itself known. More apple and white pepper. Slightly drier than before, while being rich, long. Also oak and lemon curd.

Arran, The Dark Lord, 17yo, 53.2%
The nose on this one is mostly very fruity sherry. Plums, dates, baked apple and some cinnamon. Quite a lot of oak and baking spices.

The palate is sharp but rich. Lots of flavors and slightly drying. Apple, pastry, sweet plums and dates and some oak.

The finish mellows quickly but leaves a nice tingle. Lots of fruit, baking spices and oak. Quite long.

I’ve said before in some earlier posts that I generally like spirit driven whisky. Especially the bourbon cask is that and to me, and many with me, it was the dram of the festival in IJmuiden in 2014.

It’s a real cracking dram, and the sherry version is only a little behind in terms of quality. Both are crackers. Both are ridiculously good and ridiculously good value at the time. The crispness of the bourbon cask is what really appealed to me.

Both work their fruity spirit very well and it really shows in the bottlings what Arran is capable of. I hope they keep this up, especially at the decent prices they’ve been doing it. When these came out they were about € 75 each. The follow up 12 year old was some € 70 in 2015 and I guess the bottlings that I’ve missed will probably have been around that price point too.

So, thanks have to go out to Richard Blesgraaf of Zeewijck and the Whisky & Rum aan Zee festival.

Official prices are some 300 for both the bourbon cask and the sherry cask by now, but they go for quite a bit less in auctions.

Arran, The White Wizards, 14 years old, 19/07/1999 – 03/07/2014, 56.7%
Arran, The Dark Lord, 17 years old, 11/12/1996 – 03/07/2014, 53.2%


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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