Arran 16 Years Old 1997 Cask#2 Marsala Finish ~ 46% (Berry Bros. & Rudd)

46% ABV, £63.95 available from The Whisky Exchange

Score: 75/100

Arran 16yo BBR 1997

What they say:

A 1997 vintage whisky from Arran, bottled by veteran spirits experts Berry Brothers and Rudd. This was bottled in 2013 at 16 years of age, having spent an unspecified period being finished in a cask which used to hold Marsala.

What I say:

Arran whiskies are like buses for me – you wait and wait for ages and then several come along at once. I guess this is the nature of a reasonable established distillery marking its age up the years. Soon we will be expecting another flurry of Arrans having reached the legal (well legal here in the UK) age to drink themselves. So roll on the 18 year olds… Whoa! wait – before that lest do some of the 16 and 17 year old expressions some justice. This here is a 16 year old 1997 vintage bottled in 2013 having spent some of its life finishing in a Marsala wine cask under the watchful gaze of the folks at Berry Bros.

Colour:

Yellow/amber gold

Nose:

Toffee and caramel, fruity peaches, putty/linseed oil, butterscotch, marzipan, fresh strawberry, tangerine, salty green olives, toffee apples, candy floss and toffee coated popcorn – all the scents of the fairground

Taste:

Salty and savoury, slight prickle of spicy nutmeg, burnt or over-caramelised toffee/sugar, engine oil with smoke, coffee and cocoa edging on bitterness

Finish:

Long butterscotch and toffee

Would I buy it again:

Possibly not. A very interesting dram all the same but I have been finding any Marsala cask finish whisky slightly unsavoury. Strange because I think my issue is the slightly savoury nature it imparts – it pretends to be umami and meaty but ends up like olives or nut loaf (it just isnae meat). There was a huge complexity to this dram and it really took me to the fairground with the diesel engined rides and candy floss and popcorn stalls overwhelming my nose. On tasting though, I felt like I fell out of the fairground and into the sea and came out with a green olive in my popcorn and seaweed on my toffee apple… Redeems itself on the finish but by then the damage was done. My instinctual score was a 75 but I later switched to 80 as it grew on me and I anticipated the initially unexpected. You’ll either love it or no.