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The Arran 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Review: The Arran 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky  91/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 05, 2017

The Arran 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky is a Single Malt produced from unpeated barley by Arran Distillers. I tasted the spirit at an event hosted by Ryan Engen who is the Director of Spirits, for Liquor Stores N.A. Inc. at the Edmonton Wine and Beyond McTagggert Ridge location. At the tasting I enjoyed 7 different Single Malts in what was termed the Beyond Islay Single Malt Whisky Tasting. The Whiskies at the tasting were selected to represent the diversity of Scotland’s Island Whiskies reaching beyond the popular Islay Whiskies to the malts produced on the lesser known Islands. The Isle of Arran is of course showcased by this whisky.

Arran Distillers was founded by Harold Currie, former director of Chivas. Located in Lochranza, Scotland, it is the only distillery on the Isle of Arran. Their 18 year Old spirit is a blend of both aged ex-Sherry Cask and ex-Bourbon Cask whiskies.

It is bottled at 46 % alcohol by volume.

18yo-arranIn the Bottle 4/5

The Arran 18 Year Old Single Malt is housed in a tall long-necked whisky bottle shown to the right. The bottle in turn is housed in a tall blue slender cylindrical canister.

When I look at the bottle and canister in a retail setting I find that they do not seem to have the same ‘pop’ as the other Single Malts on the retail shelf. The black label on the bottle features both white and bronze fonts, although (as you can see from the bottle shot) perhaps the problem is that the bronze font seems just a little hard to read except for the large number 18 which jumps into your face.

I am not saying the presentation is bad, it just lags behind the other Single Malts in the same price category.

In the Glass 9/10

The Arran 18 Year Old shows itself with a nice appealing amber colour which has perhaps began the turn towards copper. When the glass is tilted and twirled, the droplets which form at the crest are very stubborn almost refusing to fall back into the whisky. The initial nose is very enticing with fine oak spice mingling in the air with butterscotch and vanilla. This triumvirate is accented by a light mint-like menthol and citrus.

As I examined the dram I began to notice an increasing malty sweetness with apple and canned pear aromas developing. Some almond-like marzipan is hinted at in the breezes and as I enjoy myself grassy notes come forward and the fine oak spice builds. This is a whisky which grows in the glass.

In the Mouth 55/60

My tasting notes from the Beyond Islay Tasting begin with one word, Yumm!

The whisky is somewhat buttery and (although I might be imagining it) I believe I taste a very light hint of peat in the background which manifested itself with a light flavour of fish oil. More obvious are firm malty flavours mixed with equally firm fine oak spice giving me an almost Canadian Whisky-like impression of grain and chaff melding with ginger and butterscotch. (Again Yumm!)

I begin to notice some light flavours of cherry licorice, raisins and apricot brandy. Vanilla, mild baking spices and hints of milk chocolate with marzipan round out my tasting notes. No need for ice even at 46 % alcohol by volume, the whisky is easy to sip.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The finish is medium length with a wonderful ebbing sweetness. Although the oak spices pucker the throat initially, that lingering sweetness (butterscotch and malt) and a light influence of menthol keep everything on track through the swallow.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

After Ryan Engen had finished the tasting we were all invited to help ourselves to the glasses left by a few participants that had failed to show. I made a beeline directly to the Arran 18 Year Old as I felt it was the star of the tasting. A great aged single malt that hits the balance between the oak and the malty whisky flavours almost dead on.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Serving

Rum Old FashionedOld Fashioned

1 1/2 oz Arran 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
1/2 tsp Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 dash bitters (Angostura Orange Bitters)
Large Ice Cubes
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)



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