Arran “The Bothy”

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 20.09.32Distillery: Arran
Bottled: 2015
ABV: 55.7%
Cask: 1st-fill Bourbon, then Quarter Casks
More Info: WhiskyBase

Ah, I love a good bothy!

For the uninitiated, a bothy is basically a house/cabin out in the countryside (usually Scotland, but there’s some in the far North of England too) where walkers are free to set up bed and shelter the night safe from the elements.

They’re usually way off the beaten track and have no plumbing or amenities, except for a good fireplace and a latching door. The bothy code is to leave the bothy in a clean, tidy state along with some firewood and maybe a little food for the next people who stay.

It’s a lovely system, and I’ve had some excellent nights in bothies, usually with friends and whisky around an open wood fire.

Nose: Hay, marshmallows, rubber pencil tips, PVA glue, fizzy refresher sweets and board marker pens.

Palate: Hard fruit candy, think “Jolly Ranchers”. Pineapple cubes, menthol gum, cinnamon spice, egg custard tarts, strüdel and glacé cherries.

Finish: Oaky and long with a little vanilla pod and caramel.


Mmmm. Looks like someone brought some pick ‘n’ mix to the bothy! It’s quite youthful and very sweet and estery. I like this a lot – very much in keeping with the distillery’s core fruity sweet-shop character.

MoM Highland Park 1990

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 20.55.48Distillery: Highland Park
Bottled: 2014 Distilled: 1990
Age: 24 years old
Bottler: Master of Malt
ABV: 57.5%
Cask: Second-fill Bourbon
More Info: WhiskyBase

I do like an interesting Highland Park!

The first time I tried his delicious Orcadian beverage was way back in the sands of time as a student. Since then, sadly, I’ve found that it’s easy to get the 12 year old anywhere but pretty much everything else in their range is hard to find or just too damn expensive.

But its scarcity and price do indicate one thing – its popularity. And with good reason. Highland Park to me always tastes like an older style of whisky – more subtle, mineral, savoury qualities on the palate without being a vanilla candle at one end of the scale, or a peat monster at the other. And they peat their own barley at the distillery, which I find always makes for a more interesting profile than barley smoked at an industrial maltings.

This particular single ex-bourbon cask held the spirit for 24 years. A good age for any whisky, I’m expecting some class here.

Nose: Grilled pineapple, grapefruit syrup, fragrant resin, nutmeg ice cream, honeydew melon. Beyond the fruit, a waft of sea salt flakes and dry wood smoke.

Palate: Pear skin, tart raspberry, grapefruit, oaky barrel spice, cinnamon, and savoury peat amidst a thick, soft mouthfeel and a gentle maltiness.

Finish: Salty oak with cashews and a touch of smoked cheese.

This is absolutely glorious. Coastal peat with a ton of fruit in perfect balance. Soft mouthfeel and very smooth at full cask strength. With water it opens up with even more fruit and smoke coming through. Without water it’s still masterful on the palate, belying the considerable 57.5% ABV of the spirit.

Forgive the cliché but it’s a “fruity dessert at a beach barbecue” kind of dram. Mmmmm, absolutely stellar.

Still available over at Master of Malt for £209.95. A little more than I’d like to pay for the vintage, but it is exceptionally good and a damn-sight cheaper than the official bottling of 25-year-old, plus it’s cask strength.