Over the years Arran has tried pretty much every type of wine barrel to finish its whisky. Amarone, Sauternes, Port, Pomerol, Calvados, Champagne, Brandy, Madeira… Interesting to widen your range during the difficult start-up years, but few of them reached the heights of their more traditional, “naked” whiskies.
Single Cask Nation released a single cask Pinot Noir finished Arran. After distillation in 1999, it spent eight years in first fill bourbon wood and an additional four years in the wine cask.
Arran 12 yo 1999 (54,8%, Single Cask Nation 2011, cask #6, Pinot Noir finish, 277 btl.)
Nose: peppery and gingery at first, with a strange whiff of sour pickles. Quite some winey undertones and more than a hint of rubber as well. Settles down on lots of berries and red fruits: strawberries, grapes, candied apples and some raspberry sourness (Lindemans Framboise). Gets sweeter and rounder over time but it stays a little whacky.
Mouth: sweet grapes and cherries, then a peppery kick, then back to caramel syrup and honey. It’s oily and jammy at the same time. There’s a certain lacquered / roasted meatiness as well as the rubbery side from the nose. Fades on all sorts of spices.
Finish: sweet and spicy, a little hot even, with a bitter edge in the end.
While I’d still defend the non-finished Arran character, the Framboise touch in this wine finish was unique and actually quite pleasant. Around € 85. Only available to SCN members.