A Cause for Celebration: Robert Burns Malt (The Arran Malt)

Music: The rousing chorus of “Auld Lang Syne”

The Robert Burns Malt by Arran is a truly special malt in that it is good, reasonably complex whisky, for so little. So rare is it that a single malt whisky comes in under $50 here in Ontario that, when one does, it is cause for celebration. My bottle comes in at 43%, which I hear is a step up from the previous 40% bottling. I could imagine that would be way too light.

Nose: Light and citrusy. Oranges, limes and sweet malt. A bright malt for a summer’s day.

Palate: Malty, bright and citrusy, much like the nose, but with a little alcohol nip. Lightly herbacious and smoky. Kind of what the Tobermory 10 tried to be, but without tasting so young.

Finish: Medium in length. Cinnamon and sugar on toast. A tad sour.

Grade: B

Given that summer is on it’s way, I’d pick up a bottle of this if it’s still about here in Ontario. It may even be one of those whiskies that plays well with soda on a hot day.

“And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne”

A Dram to Share with the Angels: The Arran Malt 12yo CS (Batch 1)

This whisky is tempermental.  It’s one of those whiskies that is better without much water at all (maybe a teaspoon). Mark Dermul, the “Toshan Man” says this is a swimmer, but I just don’t get that at all. In fact, I find the opposite: more than a teaspoon kills it. Of course, it’s true that whiskies taste different to different people, so maybe my palate is weak enough that it requires that bang of flavour.

I’ve found that, instead of diluting it with copious amounts of water to calm it down, it’s really better to let it sit for 30 minutes or longer. Letting the angels have a little bit opens it up wonderfully. At least I find I get more from the nose this way. Without too much water, it’s a rich cereal and nut malt first, and soft fruits second. With water, it’s mostly soft fruits, but everything is diluted. A strange malt where the nose dies in water.

Nose: Cereals, brown sugar, apples and honey. The profile sits somewhere between the Nadurra and my old Ben Nevis 17yr Signatory. A little more water and we have soft fruits (apricot, nectarines), vanilla and some serious baked bread.

Palate: Barley, cereals, nectarine, apricot and spice. It’s almost like the “peaches and cream” instant oatmeal that you get from Quaker, except so much better. Nowhere near as artificial. It’s as if it was being made fresh for you.

Finish: Medium-long, peppery and fruity. Some serious apples going on here, but only for a short while. Brown butter on the end.

Grade: B

In early stages, much like my struggles with the Springbank 12 Claret Wood, I found this dram to be sometimes dull and lifeless (no nose to speak of, and a palate that was rather weak) to something that was quite noteworthy, and somewhat beyond it’s years. On a bad day, it performs similar to Cragganmore 12: an average malt that could be something if more care was put into it. On a good day, it rivals some of my favourite young cask-strengths.

After almost an entire bottle, I’ve settled that it’s only rarely “spectacular”, and there isn’t really a method to get it there every time. It’s rough around the edges, and would probably be better @ 14 years. That is only conjecture, though, as I have not tried their standard OB 14yr.

Review Stub: The Arran Malt, Amarone Cask Finish

A friend’s recent birthday get together just happened to be at a bar with a decent Scotch collection, stocking many whiskies that I would be unlikely to buy a bottle of because of the price and/or review consensus. This is review 2 of 2 for that series.

Nose: Rich and thick with all sorts of berries. More savoury than sweet. Leathery. A little salt and smoke, too.

Palate: Spicy, woody, with plenty of chocolate cherries and sour berries. Not all that thick. The full-bodied dry wine characteristic is there, but not overpoweringly so. Almonds.

Finish: Medium length with almonds all over the place.

Grade: B-

This one was a bit of a step up from the Glenfarclas 15 I had that night. Still rougher than I’d like my whisky to be, but at what is about 7 years younger, this one was smoother than the Glenfarclas. A little different from what you expect in a Scotch, but I’m always up for new whisky experiences. Am I glad I didn’t buy a bottle when this hit the shelves? Mostly (if only for the fact that my cabinet was rather full at the time.) But, after two tastes of some relatively good Arran, am I going to buy the 12yo CS Arran when it comes out? You betcha.

Review Stub: The Arran Malt – Sleeping Warrior

I had a chance to try this excellent 11 year old malt tonight, at a birthday meet-up for my dear brother. The price charged was a tad steep, but I can’t say I was all that disappointed.

Nose: Vanilla. That vegetal note (grassy—mossy, even) that the Singleton of Glendullan imparts, but so much better. Sherry. Soft fruits and almonds. Hints of tobacco.

Palate: Caramel, sherry, almonds and more soft fruits (think apricots, peaches).

Finish: Mostly toasted almonds, vanilla, and a great tobacco ending.

Grade: B

A nice dram that requires a bit of water. At 54.9%, it’s a bit too hot to truly enjoy neat, but with a little water it really opens up. A pleasant dram that is not all too terribly complex, but quite comforting in its simplicity.