Saturday, March 03, 2007


Writing in the 2007 edition of his “Whisky Bible”, Jim Murray has awarded Arran Distillery some of the highest marks ever for a range of its products – even higher than many long established names in the whisky industry.

Awarding the first-ever Arran 10 year old a score of 93, he said: “It won’t be long before the world’s malt connoisseurs add Arran to their list of must haves. Because if it’s character and quality you want, it’s here by the malt shed load.”

The new Arran 100o Proof Single Malt has a rating of 91 and is described as “sheer class”, while a number of the special bottlings in the company’s Cask Strength Programme are given scores of 92, 93 and 94. The Sherry Cask rated 92 is described as “A glorious advert for a distillery just coming of age.” The Trebbiano D’Abruzzo Wine Cask Finish rated 93 is described as “A jazzed up fruity, spicy number but astonishingly clean.”

Murray’s best rating, however, is reserved for a special sherry cask he tasted with Gordon Mitchell, our Distillery Manager, (above) at the company’s 10th anniversary celebrations in 2005. Awarding a score of 94 Mr. Murray commented “Total drinksmanship and brilliance. There is not a whisky even close to this in character. A stunning one off.”
Commenting on these ratings, Arran’s managing director, Douglas Davidson, said: “We have always known that we produce single malt whisky of the very highest quality here on Arran. It is nice to know that the world’s top whisky writer agrees with us, however! These ratings – across a variety of different Arran single malt products – show just how far Arran has come in the last three or four years. The baby distillery has grown up. We are here to stay and intend to become an even greater force to be reckoned with in world whisky markets for the future.”

Sunday, February 25, 2007


THE first tasting of the year was unusual in many respects. First time we had tried such old and rare whiskies, first time we had used Oran Mor and the first time Duncan Taylor’s UK representative, had hosted a tasting. It could have ended in tears and it did ­- tears of laughter as we sipped and swallowed our way through half a dozen great drams. Perhaps the self-pouring helped; while some of us stuck rigidly to a 25ml sample, others had a more liberal arm. It was noticeable that the noise levels were highest at the ‘free pour’ end of the table.

And what a table. Last used by the SFA high heid-yins at Park Circus, it now dominated the private dining room at Oran Mor, an oak-panelled suite with plush leather chairs and sofas, and its own bar. It’s an expensive option, but we felt it worthwhile for the first tasting of the year. Other nights will be in less exclusive surroundings until the Gerry Tosh Highland Park night in June, which will again be at Oran Mor.

We were walked through six whiskies by Jacque Sutherland, left, from Duncan Taylor:
1. NC2, a 1993 Mortlach at 46%.
2. 19YO Macallan at 52.4%. Bottle 05/1306 from oloroso sherry cask 9793, distilled 12/1987
3. The Lonach Caperdonich at 41.9% aged 33 years
4. Rarest of the Rare Glenlochy at 53.2%. Bottle no 3 out of 294 from cask 2452. Distilled 08/1980
5. Invergordon grain at 50.3%. Bottle 05/238 from cask 15514. Distilled 12/1965
6. Auld Reekie 12YO Islay malt at 46%, and mainly Caol Ila, with a drop of something ‘unspecified’.

There were as many favourites as there were drams. Your humble scribe was taken by the Lonach Caperdonich, a vatting of three casks, one or two of which had dropped below the 40% mark. It was fresh, with green apples, grass and, I kid you not, an initial nose of fish oil (!) with pear drops. At around £60 retail, not a bank buster either. The 26-year-old Glenlochy, which closed in 1983, was also a star, but at £90, perhaps one for a special occasion.

Finally, just a word about attendance. Eleven souls out of a club membership of 40 turned up. Perhaps the cost was high, although more members would have reduced the price of admission. Perhaps the choice of whiskies wasn’t appealing to everyone; although I would have thought the chance to taste whiskies aged 40, 33 and 26 would have been adraw in itself.

Still the team that turned out did them proud.