Scotch Review #116: The Arran Malt 22 Year Old and Wise (1996)
ABV: 50.9%, Cask Strength
Age: 22 Year
Cask Type: Sherry Hogshead
Cask No: 055
Distillation Date: Feb 7th, 1996
Bottled Date: July 5th, 2018
Bottle Number: 50 / 305
Color: 0.9, Amontillado Sherry. Non-Chill Filtered and Natural Color.
So I did something a little different with this review. I reviewed the first pour out of the bottle after letting it rest for a few minutes, which is what I usually do. Then, at the suggestion of /u/b1uepenguin, I left a dram to air out for a few hours to try and see how this would be like as it opens up a bit with oxidation. Unsurprisingly, there is a difference which I’ve written about below.
First Pour Review
Nose (according to the wife): It smells like new, wooden furniture! You still get a bit of that freshly cut wood that comes right as you open the packaging for furniture. There’s also coffee and walnuts along with some sweetness in caramel and toffee.
Palate: From the get go, it’s a berry jam bonanza. There’s strawberry jam, raspberry jam, blackberry jam, and blueberry jam. I almost want to just spread this over some bread and eat it. Along with all of the jams, there’s a bit of a milk chocolate and a bit of fresh oak toward the end. With some water, freeze dried strawberries come out a bit (the kind you find in cereal).
Finish: Medium to long in length. It’s a pretty earthy malt with some walnuts and oak. Again with some water, the freeze dried strawberries come out here as well.
Conclusion: This is quite a fun dram. The nose doesn’t tease a whole lot in the way of fruits or much of that sherry influence but gives off the lovely aroma of new wood furniture. The palate has lots of fruit in it and that bit of milk chocolate really ties it together. The finish takes yet another turn and goes a very earthy, malty route which is nice.
Second Pour, Rested for Hours Review
Nose (according to the wife): It’s a lot fruitier than the first one! While that bit of fresh wood still exists, there’s a very fruit forward element here. Red grapes (specifically the slightly aged and starting to ferment kind), pears, and sherry dominate. A bit of caramel lingers as well.
Palate: There’s definitely a lot more of the sherry influence here. You get notes of that creamy, rich sherry which is lovely. The fruit jams are mostly gone though with a currant jam being the only one I can pick out. In its place are some very rich, deep, red fruits (almost sangria like) and freeze dried strawberries. There’s a hint of fresh oak and some dark chocolate shavings. With some water, salted caramel comes out along with a bit of malt.
Finish: Nice and long. Creamy sherry and creamy chocolate make it up here along with a bit of that fresh oak again. After some water is added, there’s a few notes of fresh apples here and again.
Conclusion: It’s opened up quite a bit and there’s a lot of sherry throughout now. I’m a little surprised of the loss of those multiple fruit jams but the sangria fruits and creamy sherry that take its place are lovely. Thanks again to /u/b1uepenguinfor the lovely suggestion of airing this out!
Final Conclusion: Coming from Arran’s second year of operation, this is just about as old of an Arran as you can find. I’m really glad to see that their malt holds up well to longer maturation as the 14 year is one of my personal go-to drinks (and I’ve got a bunch holed away now that they’re not being made anymore). The first pour is a lot of fun with lots of jammy fruit notes and a few earthy ones. The oxidized pour had a lot more of the sherry character in it which bodes well for this one as I eventually work my way down the bottle. Would I buy it again? Yes.
Final Score: 90.
Scotch Whisky review #116, Island Whisky Review #23, Whisky Network Review #151
- 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
- 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
- 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
- 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
- 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
- 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
- 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
- Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.