Quietly flying under the radar, continuing to produce more impressive malts with each release, is the island distillery of Arran; one of Scotland's more modern distilleries, built in 1993 before the boom. There are precious few producers left who will let K&L purchase directly from their live inventory, and even fewer who will quote us a more moderate price for such treasures. To get a fifteen year old, cask strength, sherry hogshead in this market is like asking for the moon. To get it distillery-direct for $129.99 is a no-brainer. This whisky, to me, represents the perfect marriage of malted barley and sweet sherry. Both elements are in complete balance, yin and yang, constituting an equal 50/50 of the flavor profile. There's a huge note of sweet malted vanilla, but it gives way at the back to fruitier notes of Oloroso goodness. At 56.8% ABV, the heat is dialed up, adding an extra blast to all that intensity.
As long as Arran keeps letting us in the door, we'll keep knocking. This is textbook Scotch.
2000 Arran 15 Year Old K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky $129.99- We've grown awfully fond of the little-distillery-that-could on Scotland's Isle of Arran. Every time we make a visit and search for a new cask, we seem to find just the right barrel to bring back home. We're batting 1.000 with their sherry-matured inventory, and this new hogshead cask is quite possibly the grand slam of finds. It's not a sherry bomb by any means, as it beautifully meanders from stonefruit and creamy malt into elements of cakebread and spice, but then back to the soft vanilla of the malt again. At 56.8%, it's a powerful dram, but one that can handle water like an Olympic swimmer. In the whisky boom era, finding distilleries that can directly sell us casks of the highest quality (that aren't obvious leftovers from the recent batch), from their very best stocks is not easy. Most distilleries that still offer cask programs have increased their pricing by 25-40% over the last year. But Arran keeps on chugging away, fully showing us that they're a distillery and a relationship worth investing in. This latest 15 year old sherry cask is all the proof you need.