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.

Arran 1st Official White Stag Bottling

Distillery: Arran
Bottled: June 2015
Age: 18 years old (at least, it will be in June)
ABV: 55.3%
Cask: Sherry Hogshead
More Info: Twitter

Here’s the final dram in the lineup for the Third Arran Tweet Tasting April 2015 – the eagerly awaited White Stag bottling.

The White Stag club is the distillery’s members’ club. Anyone can sign up for free, and be entitled to exclusive offers. This club bottling has been a long time coming and it’s a privilege to be tasting it before it’s officially released in June…

Nose: Ooh. I smell Oriental cooking here. Soy sauce, lemongrass, and fragrant five-spice notes coming through. Cherries in chocolate sauce with melted butter on top. A good stout. Blackcurrant and mint leaves. Freshly shelled peas.

Palate: Luscious and musky. Baked apple, barbecued bananas, cigar tobacco. Chocolate coconut brownies and sweet cider.

Finish: Drying and chalky with more sweet cigar tobacco.

This is divine. A great balance between savoury and sweet. That sherry hogshead approach is working wonders again. I bet this sells out in minutes when it’s released!

So there ends another brilliant tasting from Arran and Steve Rush. What a treat – thanks guys!

The tweet tastings organised by Steve Rush are a lot of fun. Get involved over at

Arran Single Bourbon Cask 99/103

Distillery: Arran
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 1999
Age: 13 years old
ABV: 55.3%
Cask: 1st-Fill Bourbon
More Info: Twitter

Here’s the third whisky in the lineup for the Third Arran Tweet Tasting April 2015 – a premium single cask bottling from a first-fill Bourbon cask.

Nose: Wow. You can really get lost in this nose… Mmmmmmm…. Soft and waxy woodshavings with greengages and lychee. Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles. Sweet pickled cabbage. Tons and tons of Bourbon spice: nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Salty rock dust. Vanilla custard.

Palate: Oh my god – it’s like someone poured a can of Lilt into the cask! Fizzy tropical fruit notes, sour and sweet with zesty lemon sherbet. Cola cubes, and tart cranberry juice.

Finish: Loads more of that Bourbon barrel spice. Long and tingly.

This dram just keeps on giving. A big, happy, bear-hug of a whisky. I adore bold 1st-fill Bourbon expressions and this is one of the best I’ve tasted. My favourite of the night. So sad it’s already sold out!

There’s currently a similar 15 year old expression available for £71.99 online. I haven’t tried it, but if it’s anything like this one then you’re in for a treat!

Finally, we have the highlight of the evening – a preview taste of the 1st official White Stag bottling due for release in June…

The tweet tastings organised by Steve Rush are a lot of fun. Get involved over at

Arran 18 Year Old

Distillery: Arran
Bottled: 2015, Distilled: 1997
Age: 18 years old
ABV: 46%
Cask: Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s the second whisky in the lineup for the Third Arran Tweet Tasting April 2015 – the hotly anticipated Arran 18 Year Old.

Nose: A little leathery, with sweet apple blossom, fresh peaches, juicy pears, white wine, and a sherbety (almost) smoky edge. Vanilla fudge and Highland chewy toffee. A pear strudel emerges. Bananas and salted cashews. Wow.

Palate: Toffee and cinnamon. Runny honey. Barley sugar sweets. A lovely, almost peaty tingle runs through the middle. Mellow fruit notes of tangerines, pineapples and ripe plums.

Finish: Slightly drying with tea leaves, egg custard, dried mangoes and apricots.

Those Oloroso hogsheads, being smaller than those big butts (tee hee!) get more wood contact so they’re imparted some great flavour here.

This is a refined and sexy whisky. Balanced, fruity, and very more-ish. Well worth the £72.99 asking price on the distillery website.

Next is an exclusive premium single Bourbon cask bottling

The tweet tastings organised by Steve Rush are a lot of fun. Get involved over at

Arran Sauternes Cask Finish

Distillery: Arran
Bottled: 2014
ABV: 50.0%
Cask: Ex-Bourbon, finished in Sauternes wine
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s the first whisky in the lineup for the Third Arran Tweet Tasting April 2015 – the Sauternes finish.

Nose: Glacé cherries, salty caramel wafers and cream. Sweet meadowy notes – grass, flowers and pollen. Bit of a meaty, sulphurous note in there too. Spicy gingerbread. Wet raspberries and melon rind. A bit musty too. Anti perspirant, but in a good way.

Palate: Cold black coffee and chocolate. Orange hard boiled sweets. Lovely luscious oily mouthfeel on this. Golden delicious apples, grapes, and sultanas.

Finish: Dry tobacco, leaf litter and slightly ashy.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a Summer whisky but this is definitely it! Sweet, floral, luscious and mouthwatering. A perfect dram to enjoy in the recent bout of sunshine we’ve had in the UK.

Next is the hotly anticipated Arran 18 Year Old

The tweet tastings organised by Steve Rush are a lot of fun. Get involved over at

Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster

Those folks at Douglas Laing sure can put together an interesting blend.

I’ve been a big fan of Big Peat for a few years now, especially the Xmas edition*. Their other regional blends, Timorous Beastie (for the Highlands), and Scallywag (for Speyside) are less to my taste, but very well put together all-the-same.

This one looks right up my street – the new blend, Rock Oyster, comprised purely of whisky from Scotland’s Islands region. I’m expecting maritime, salty, peaty goodness here. Let’s go!

Nose: Leathery, damp sand, mud, brine. Very mineral rich and salt-crusted, with a hint of icing sugar.

Palate: Quite savoury. Lemon, bitter grapefruit, thyme, cloves, olives and a crisp, tangy smoke. There’s a biscuity element in there too, among the tangier notes, which comes through later. A little bit of honey, vanilla and flowers once the smoke’s died down but only a bit.

Finish: It starts off oily in the mouth and progresses to a drying, lip-smacking finish of salt, cured meat, and white pepper.

I think the name here is bang on – it’s like sitting in a rock pool while you smoke seafood over a beach-fire.

It’s certainly one of the most savoury whiskies I’ve had in a while – not much in the way of fruity, malty notes. Thick bodied, too, with wide legs ending in big beads. Looks like a higher strength dram than 46.8%.

Sleuthing out the Components

The distilleries aren’t listed like they are with the Big Peat but it’s worth a bash all the same…

I’m thinking there’s a good dose of Highland Park in here – the way they peat their own barley on the island imparts that savoury smoke and the distinctive drying, grainy quality on the finish.

Since Jura and Arran only have a single distillery each, those are easy conclusions to come to! Though I don’t get any of the toffee or tangerine that I usually get from those whiskies (respectively), so that’s unexpected. I suspect their contribution to the whisky is relatively small compared to the others.

Which leaves the Islay component…

It’s a very maritime whisky, rather than an out-and-out peaty profile. Ardbeg is earthier, Laphroaig more medicinal, and I can’t see Lagavulin or Kilchoman being easily available.

The texture isn’t right for Bruichladdich, and Bunnahabhain is usually very sweet so the overall palate wouldn’t be this savoury…

Add the salty, lemony, olive-oil characteristics into the mix and… I’d have to say it’s a Caol Ila.

And Finally…

I like this one a lot. It doesn’t blow your head off like Big Peat (although that experience is not unpleasant) so it’s a bit more accessible – a weeknight dram for the coastal whisky fan, rather than a late-night mood whisky for a smoke-headed lunatic.

I’m not a huge advocate of food-pairing with spirits usually, but I can totally see this being nice with seafood. Maybe a bowl of prawns or mussels… I must buy a bottle and do some more research!

The important question now is, when will Master of Malt’s Sam add the Rock Oyster to the Douglas Laing Crimefighting Force…?

* In fact, one of the highlights of the London Whisky Show for me was being given a Big-Peat pen projector that casts the face of the windswept hero into the distance like Batman’s Bat Light.

You can pick up a sample or a bottle of Rock Oyster over at Master of Malt for £37.82.