Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Pair of Arran 17 year

Arran 17 Sherry Hogshead bottled for K&L 56.1%
Arran 17 Single Cask Bourbon Cask Cask 539 51.1%

Nose: Both of these bottles capture that Arran terroir: fresh, crisp malt with salinity. Fresh green apple with a surprising new-make style character.

Bourbon: Nothing surprising here. Vanilla, and faint oak. This is a forward, highlighted malt nose with some hints of pepper.

Sherry: The sherry Arran sources is much more herbal than sweet, the traditional Arran malt notes described are sandwiched between two herbal components. No individual spice components, but a flavor profile much more like mulled cider (rancio). A lot of oak in there, too. This was apparently a barrel of newer cooperage.

Taste:

Bourbon: Green apples (but not tart) and raisins. A flash of cherry, more oceanic salinity, but mostly a big malt flavor. A very fresh, almost green style of malt. No significant under matured or over matured notes. Just a hint of vanilla.

Sherry: Side-by-side with the bourbon shows exactly how much sherry influence is in this product. Traditional malt notes are buried under a lot of spice. It’s hard to pick out individual spice notes on this one, a lot of the earthy sherry elements are here. Brine from the malt is squeezed out through the spices. A nice oak complement brings all this together.

Finish:
Bourbon: Lingering malt notes, salt, and just a little pepper.

Sherry: Sweet sherry notes finally arrive surrounded by a bitter rind note and a capsaicin heat.

Balance: I could have told you on spec that I am a fan of bourbon over sherry. There’s something to appreciate with the simplicity of a 2nd or 3rd fill bourbon cask properly matured that is not usually found in sherry. This is simply not the case between these two products; regardless of bias the sherry bottling is better than the bourbon. I’m looking forward to future bottlings of 20+ year Arran bourbon barrels but the sherry rules this day.

Grades:
Bourbon: B
Sherry: B+/A-

Would I buy again: I will buy future older bourbon barrels and similarly aged sherry from Arran.

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