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.