Arran Whisky Tasting at The Rutland Arms | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Arran Whisky Tasting at The Rutland Arms

It was the height of the summer heatwave when the sweltering upstairs room of the Rutland Arms played host to David from the Isle of Arran Distillery and Sam from Indie Brands, a distributor focusing on a portfolio of spirits and cocktail producers from around the world, in an evening organised by our favourite spirits shop Starmore Boss.

We opened with the flagship release, the Arran 10 year old, while we were shown a short video about the distillery, based near the village of Lochranza on the north tip of  the Isle of Arran (We visited in 2015). The whisky itself has a smooth sweetness with heaps of vanilla and a little touch of white chocolate, that continues across the palate with apples and custard. The bourbon influence is massive, and we all agreed this was a great way to open the evening and an excellent choice for those not already familiar with the distillery to get a clear idea of its character from the off.

The next dram was a big step in age to the 18 year old release, which is delightfully refined. Finished in sherry casks to help round the flavours and add a wonderful punch of sticky dried fruits, raisins, prunes and a little cherry, bolstering the overall profile which holds a delicious dark chocolate character. The whole thing comes together in a way very much reminiscent of Rocky Road.

The brand new release Brodick Bay followed, the oldest of the evening at 20 years old and one of the most accomplished. The distillery itself being only 23 years old, to have the quality of spirit to release a drink as defined as this one is a monumental feat. This particular release is limited to 9000 bottles and bottled at cask strength of 49.8%. It has been aged for 8 years in ex-bourbon Buffalo Trace casks and sherry hogsheads before being blended and finished in Oloroso sherry casks. The palate holds plenty of dry sherry, but still loads of dried stone fruits, a little touch of spice and perhaps a little cinnamon. The wood character is clear and bold and really transfers a lot of the quality of the wood into the enjoyment of the spirit.

The Amarone is a whisky we've drunk before in the distillery, so there are more detailled notes here. It was interesting to drink this in such a different context, from the cooling winds of the Irish Sea to the sticky stillness of summer time UK '18. This was cleverly paired with a chunk of dark chocolate also made on Arran. The addition of a rich, bitter flavour really opened up some of the finer points of the dram and enhanced the sweeter underrepresented aspects of the whisky, simply wonderful.

The final whisky of the night was Machrie Moor, a NAS peated whisky, that is perfect for those unsure of their peat reek limits - soft and rounded with just a little sweetness, not too much in the way of high alcohols, merely a warmth that comes from its slightly younger age. A very accessible dram.


What really excites us about Arran is the ongoing construction of their second distillery, in which they will focus on producing only peated malt throughout. Although it's going to be a few years in the making, it's definitely one we'll be keeping an eye on and we're looking forward to following their progress.

A big thanks to the Arran team for a well curated selection of drams, to Jeff from Starmore Boss for organising the evening and inviting us along, and to the Rutland for always being top notch hosts.

Slainte!