The Arran Malt 21 Year Explorer Series Volume 3: Kildonan & Pladda Island

Christmas Countdown 2020 #8: The Arran Malt 21 Year Explorer Series Volume 3: Kildonan & Pladda Island

Distillery: Arran

Region: Island

Age: 21 Year.

ABV: 50.4%.

Cask Type: Matured in Sherry Butts, Puncheons and Ruby Port Pipes

Price: £121 (~$160)

Color: 1.7, Burnt Umber. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered.

This is the 8th installment of this years Christmas Countdown. You can see the entire 2020 series here or the 2019 edition here.


Nose: It’s quite fragrant, you can smell this well before your nose gets stuck in the glass (and it smells nice, puts a smile right on my face). The main note I get is a delicious rum raisin. There’s a bit of very well aged balsamic vinegar as well. It’s quite robust and full. There is some more fruit as well in the form of dried dates and a bit of fig.

Palate: The port influence on this is quite strong. At full strength, you get hit with it immediately and that’s almost all you get at first. It’s that sweetness with a little bit of tang you expect from a port. Along with the port come notes of Parma Violets, a bit of very sweet cherry, a little bit of date, and dried jujubes. It does need a little bit of water, this whisky goes over a little hotter than expected. With a few drops of water, the heat dissipates quite nicely. With water, the sherry does peek out a little bit. The overall whisky gets a tad sweeter with the lighter notes of sherry. A few hints of strawberries appear here and there as well.

Finish: Medium in length. It’s sweet with strawberry and something somewhere between grape Jolly Ranchers and grape soda.

Conclusion: Oh Arran. Why do you do this to me? Why do you keep making delicious things? I suppose there isn’t a bigger first wold complaint than that. Arran is back with their third installment in the Explorer series and it’s fantastic as usual. The port maturation really shines here. It’s present from start to finish but not so dominant that other things don’t shine through. The layers of fruits and floral treats make for a really fun whisky. With some water, the sherry is able to show itself a tad as well which just adds to the experience. I’m excited to see how this guy does over time as I fully expect it to become tastier with air time (this review was off of a first pour) but even as it is, it is delicious. Would I buy another bottle? If I could find one.

Final Score: 92.

Scotch Whisky Review #231, Island Review #34, Whisky Network Review #350


Scoring Legend:

  • 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.

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