Arran Peated 2017

Several single casks have been identified by James MacTaggart and bottled as single cask distillery exclusives and White Stag Community bottles with enormous success. Arran distillery is growing exponentially in popularity amongst Scotch whisky enthusiasts and, impressively, the distillery is the most visited in Scotland, with more than 100,000 people per year making the trip.

Auction estimate: £5,500 – £6,500

Auction has ended. The winning bidder has been notified.

Cask Details

DistilleryArran
RegionIslands
Age3 years
Distillation DateNovember 7, 2017
Cask Type1st Fill Bourbon Barrel
Peated?Yes
Original Litre of Alcohol (OLA)123.90 litres
Re-gauge ABV61.00%
New Bulk Litres194.00 litres
Re-gauge DateN/A
Bottles277
Cask Number17/3228

The Wood

When the distillery was in its infancy first fill bourbon casks were rarely used, in fact between 1995 and 2005 more than 90% of the casks used at Arran were second fill. Since this time there has been a shift towards using fresh, first fill casks which are deemed to be the optimum wood for Arran’s spirit.

“You need to have a good wood policy.”

—James MacTaggert, Distillery Manager 2017

And Arran absolutely does, working with Kelvin Cooperage, a family run cooperage firm who were founded in Glasgow and relocated to Louisville, Kentucky in 1991. Kelvin Cooperage has a vast inventory of Bourbon casks from Kentucky where this barrel originated and has supplied many major Scottish distilleries since 1963.

The Isle of Arran has its own microclimate where temperatures are generally higher than the mainland; this was true the week this cask was filled. Edinburgh shivered with lows of 2°C , whilst Arran basked with highs of 12°Cand with higher humidity percentage.

A higher, and more constant, average temperature increases the angel’s share and the ABV would be expected to drop at a higher rate. However, after 3 and a half years in cask, this spirit remains at a high 61%. The spirit could continue maturing in this cask for many years without the fear of losing substantial ABV and bulk volume.

The Spirit

Arran operates one of the slowest distillation runs in the whisky industry and according to the master distiller at the time of this cask being filled, it is because whisky production cannot be rushed and increased copper interaction allows the spirit to take on a fruitier characteristic.

The fermentation time of 60 hours, combined with slow distillation, means Arran’s spirit is beautifully fresh and fruity, and therefore works in harmony with fresh ex-bourbon casks like the one we have for auction here.

The introduction of peated spirit has allowed Arran to diversify their offering and produce a more traditional spirit character for this region of Scotland. The influence of peat smoke also provides flexibility for those looking to bottle spirit. At a young age the smokiness comes to the fore with a big bold flavour profile and with time the smoke, cask and spirit become beautifully integrated and harmonious.

The Masters

James MacTaggart became the distillery manager of Arran from 2007 and immediately had a positive impact, winning distillery manager of the year in his inaugural year. His career in whisky began in 1975 on his native Islay at the Bowmore Distillery.

Throughout his tenure James MacTaggart has focused and honed the first fill bourbon maturation process at the distillery. The small-scale nature of Arran’s distillery means that he works closely with their cask suppliers and is extremely hands-on with the distillation process.

“I find that the bourbon barrel really allows the bright vibrant character of the Arran spirit to shine through at its absolute best.”

—James MacTaggert, Distillery Manager 2017

In 2017 James MacTaggart celebrated a decade as the master distiller at Arran distillery and hand picked a selection of 10 year old casks for bottling. These 12 thousand bottles were cask strength, first-fill bourbon barrels, just like the one we have here. If he deems the quality to be there for a limited release, then we are reassured that we have excellent whisky on our hands!

The Verdict

Over the last few years Arran distillery have experimented with a number of cask finishes, with varying success, but at the heart of almost all whisky from this relatively new distillery is initial maturation in first-fill bourbon casks such as this.

Several single casks have been identified by James MacTaggart and bottled as single cask distillery exclusives and White Stag Community bottles with enormous success. Arran distillery is growing exponentially in popularity amongst Scotch whisky enthusiasts and, impressively, the distillery is the most visited in Scotland, with more than 100,000 people per year making the trip.

Tasting Notes

“This is a young whisky with a lot of promise. The smokey aromas coming off of it have a few fresh, ‘green’ characteristics as well as sweet hazelnut and vanilla ice cream. Drinking a little reveals more vegetal notes like grilled asparagus and earthy carrots. The sweetness is still present though with undertones of citrus as well as the nutty, grainy flavour of an unpopped popcorn kernel. This whisky has a myriad of bright, diverse flavours. To me it seems ideally positioned for maturation, it would be fascinating to see how the vegetal, the hazelnut and smoke develop.”

Peter Adams,
Edinburgh Distiller

About The Distillery

Once an island of small scale, illicit production, Arran’s agriculture was able to support around 50 stills of questionable legality at its southern half. Known as ‘Scotland in miniature’, Arran has highlands, but also fertile plains where barley can grow well – a microcosm of Scotland on one island. Arran distillers have partnered with the Agronomy Institute of Orkney to develop a modern version of traditional bere barley, something that will grow well on Scotland’s islands and establish a local fertility that will feed the whiskies of the future.

We have a pair of casks from this distillery, both distilled in the second half of 2017. One contains peated spirit, the other unpeated. They may have grown up in an almost identical environment, but these sibling casks have wildly different personalities, originating from the nature of the barley at their core.

Buyer’s note: We cannot offer a photo of this cask due to the regulations on Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations that are imposed in the warehouse.

Questions?

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Auction Details

  • Bidding will end on June 6th at 5:00pm BST subject to continuation defined below.
  • If any bid is received within the last 5 minutes of bidding across any of the current auction listings, the entire auction will be extended for an additional 5 minutes. The auction will officially close when a period of 5 minutes has passed without a new bid.
  • All bids represent a legally binding contract to purchase the designated item.
  • The highest bidder at conclusion of the auction will immediately be charged a £500 deposit by credit card; the remaining balance will be due within 72 hours of auction close by bank wire transfer.
  • Failure to send proof of payment within 72 hours will result in a penalty of 1% of the hammer price for each day the payment is delinquent.
  • Upon verification that all funds due have been received, ownership of the cask will be transferred to the buyer and the buyer will be sent a title certificate. As per Scottish regulations, the cask must remain in a government bonded warehouse until bottling.
  • No samples will be provided during the auction.
  • If two bidders place a bid in the same amount, the first bid placed will be the winner.
  • Storage will be included for a period of 3 years from the conclusion of the auction. All other costs related to storage, removal from storage, insurance, transportation, bottling and duties/taxes will be the sole responsibility of the buyer.
  • A reserve price has been set for the auction. If the reserve price is not reached then the seller, in their sole discretion, can choose whether to accept the high bid or may offer a counter offer. All bids placed by buyers are binding, even when the reserve price has not been met, until the seller declines the highest bid.
  • A 10% buyers premium will be added to the highest prevailing bid. No buyers premium will be due if the reserve price is not met and the seller choses not to accept the high bid.