Arran 16yo, 2000-2016, Private Cask

ABV: 58.7%
Region: Highlands (Isle of Arran)
Price per bottle: °°
Bottling: Distillery (Specially selected by Kammer Kirsch)
Cask type:
Sherry Hogshead (#2000/225, 258 btl.)


Colour: Deep gold.
Nose: A restrained start at first with the alcohol being very present. After a while, however, sweet and old sherry arrives, nicely mixed with vanilla, toffee and acacia honey. Then dark fruits emerge with plums and dates, before notes of black tea, tobacco leaves and oak show up in the back, followed by a hint of smoke.
Palate: Bold and intense on the palate with the sherry sweetness being slightly more present compared to the nose. Fruity with plums, dates and raisins, followed by milk chocolate. Then slightly warming spices of oak, pepper and subtle nutmeg arrive, before spicy acacia honey, tobacco leaves, subtle walnuts and dry notes of black tea take over, accompanied by a whiff of smoke towards the finish.
Finish: The finish is long, warm and creamy with sticky dark fruit jam and caramel, followed by dry notes of oak, tobacco leaves and subtle cloves. Pleasantly mouth-coating.
With water: Water tames a bit of the alcoholic bite in the nose bringing more sherry and honey sweetness to the fore. Very spicy on the palate with cracked black pepper and oak, with a sweet core of sherry, dark fruits and caramel in the back. The finish is still long and warm, but becomes very dry with oak and tobacco leaves.
Comments: This limited special bottling of Arran is very strong and intense at the beginning due to its alcoholic bite. Later, however, it captivates with a delicate bouquet of sherry, dark fruit and spicy notes that can also be found on the palate. Despite the high strength of alcohol, this dram hardly tolerates water, as the delicious sweetness disappears and the malt becomes distinctly spicier and drier.

Arran 5yo, 2011-2016, A.D. Rattray
ABV: 58.5%
Region: Highlands (Isle of Arran)
Price per bottle: °°
Bottling: Dewar Rattray
Cask type: Pedro Ximénez Sherry Hogshead (#005, 329 btl.)


Colour: Dark reddish amber.
Nose: Liquorice and toffee on the nose. Raisins and brown sugar, complemented by tobacco leaves and dark chocolate. The alcohol is very present, but not pungent at all. With time, lingering notes of plum jam emerge, followed by ginger and dates in the back. No doubt, this is from a PX cask.
Palate: Hints of citrus at first, changing immediately to dark fruits, cherries, dates and raisins. Bold, rich and intense on the palate. Sherry, red berries and lots of plum jam with hints of dark chocolate towards the finish.
Finish: The finish is long with bold sherry flavours. Sticky fruit jam, plums and raisins, with expresso notes, lightly spicy oak and a subtle nuttiness on the tail.
With water: Water tames the alcoholic bite bringing luscious dark fruits to the fore. Hints of lemon and toffee in the back. Very fruity on the palate with luscious plums and cherries. Creamy, sweet and rich. The finish is still long and sweet with plum jam. Becomes a bit dry with espresso and subtle bitter walnuts on the tail.
Comments: The type of maturation has deeply influenced this single malt from the Isle of Arran. A full-bodied, elegant and rich dram with a classic and delicate sherry-derived flavour profile. Although only five years old, this dram shows a constantly evolving balance of richness and fruitiness. Another big hit for the sherry aficionados.

Arran 13yo, 1999/2000-2013, Millennium Casks
ABV: 53.5%
Region: Highlands (Isle of Arran)
Price per bottle: °°
Bottling: Distillery
Cask type: 35 Bourbon Barrels and 10 Sherry Hogsheads (7,800 btl.)


Colour: Pale gold.
Nose: Fresh and very fruity on the nose with classic notes of apples, peaches and apricots. On top of that, vanilla fudge along with cereal notes emerge, followed by butterscotch and slightly bitter orange peel. The alcohol is present and bites a bit, but not pungent at all.
Palate: Oh yes - this is pleasantly sweet and lovely fruity with apples, peaches, apricots and banana. Warming with lots of lingering spices - oak, cinnamon, and ginger. Very mouth coating, creamy, with sticky notes of heather honey, barley sugar and a slightly dry whiff of cocoa towards the finish.
Finish: The finish is long and warming, with a silky soft and fruity end, followed by lingering crisp spiced oak and tender lime juice on the tail.
With water: Water tames a bit of the alcoholic bite in the nose bringing more yellow fruitiness, lovely mixed with sweet vanilla to the fore. Sweet and fruity on the palate with slightly more prickling spiced oak on the tongue. The finish is long, sweet and warm, gripping and gently drying.
Comments: This limited edition shows the fresh lively sweet character of Arran. Well put together, very tasty and full-bodied. It’s predominatly the bourbon casks doing the talking here. A quartet of freshness, richness, fruit and spiced oak - like an exhilarating walk in an orchard garden. Well done folks!

Arran 2012, The Devil's Punch Bowl Chapter I
ABV: 52.3%
Region: Highlands (Isle of Arran)
Price per bottle: °°
Bottling: Distillery
Cask type: Bourbon barrels, sherry butts and hogsheads (6,660 btl.)


Colour: Gold.
Nose: Quite a fresh and fruity start on the nose with yellow apples, banana, grapes and some dried tropical fruits. This is complemented by lingering vanilla and a touch of citrus notes. With time toffee and butterscotch emerge, associated with delicate herbs and oak spice, cinnamon and a whiff of peat. Very harmonious.
Palate: Very sweet, fruity and creamy, even velvety on the palate. There's ripe banana, baked apples, apricot jam, gentle sherry and lingering citrus notes with a slightly bitter touch of orange peel. Delicate vanilla creme emerges with pepper, marzipan and nutmeg providing a spicy and pleasantly warm background. Bold and intense, round with a touch of peat smoke.
Finish: Very long and deliciously sweet finish with hot oak spice, pepper and subtle smoke on the tail.
With water: Fairly the same nose with more citrus fruit and vanilla on the palate, leading to a long, hot, spicy but velvety finish.
Comments: Really a Punch Bowl. A very complex and versatile dram. Lots of fruit and sweetness on the nose, with an additional spicy kick on the palate and finish. Elegant and rich. As it is said on the label: A fine selection from devilishly good casks. Diabolic indeed!

Arran 2014, The Devil's Punch Bowl Chapter III - The Fiendish Finale
ABV: 53.4%
Region: Highlands (Isle of Arran)
Price per bottle: °°
Bottling: Distillery
Cask type: Sherry butts, French oak barriques and bourbon barrels (6,660 btl.)

Colour: Old gold.
Nose: Very aromatic nose with fresh yellow fruit, peach, banana and grapefruit, complemented by lingering citrus and lemon notes. With time slightly coastal aroma emerges with sea air and a hint of salt, along with a whiff of earthy flavours.
Palate: Boy, now here's the power! Warm with a big fruity sweetness and delicate floral notes on the palate. Gentle oak spice and cinnamon develop with a whiff of pepper and bitter orange peel. Lateron delicious gooseberry emerge with lingering vanilla. Delicate.
Finish: Long, sweet and spicy. Creamy with a sort of bubble gum flavours on the tail.
With water: There's more fruit on the nose with peach and gooseberry, and an increased fruity sweetness on the palate, complemented by prickling oak spice. The finish is significantly more creamy, even silky with lots of bubble gum and sticky honey in the end. Amazing.
Comments: The third and final chapter of The Devil's Punchbowl trilogy is a very nice whisky, well crafted and powerful. It's difficult to say it has a specific or dominant flavour, maybe shy is the right word. To me, the taste improves significantly by adding a splash of water. Devilishly delicate but difficult this one!

Arran 2015, Smugglers' Series Volume One - The Illicit Stills
ABV: 56.4%
Region: Highlands (Isle of Arran)
Price per bottle: °°°
Bottling: Distillery
Cask type: Bourbon barrels and port pipes (8,700 btl.)

Colour: Bright gold.
Nose: Wow - there's a lot going on here. Sweetness of yellow fruit, apples and plums, complemented by gentle smoke rising from a nice peat fire. Behind that malted barley and lingering vanilla emerge with the alcohol being well integrated. Elegant floral notes occur along with a whiff of coastal aroma. An excellent and addictive nose.
Palate: Initially, smouldering peat starts up complemented by luscious sweet yellow fruit. Melons, yellow plums and apples emerge along with signficant malty flavours. Lingering spicy oak and white pepper provide the mouth grips. Bold, warm and intense. Very pleasant.
Finish: A very long, rich and warm finish. Flavours of sweet maltiness fade, before maritime notes take over along with lots of smoke and lingering peat warmth. Delicate spice stick on your tongue for hours.
With water: Water tames a bit the peat smoke on the nose with increased yellow fruit coming through. It's still bold and intense on the palate with sweetness and lots of malted barley, complemented by gentle peat and smoke. This results in a medium to long finish and prickling oak spice occur on your tongue. Very enjoyable.
Comments: An intriguing first release in the Arran Smugglers’ Edition Series which is a trilogy of three limited editions. This heavily peated dram is well-balanced with delicate sweetness, gentle yellow fruits and malty flavours. Although filled at cask strength, the alcohol is well integrated and not pungent at all. A full bodied and multilayered whisky. Another big shot from the Arran Distillery team.

I thank Rob Bert Meyer for sharing a sample with me and for the photograph!