my friends zizi and thomas invited me to join them and a few other international students on an outing to the isle of arran. i read in my scotland pocket-book (thanks suki!) that arran is divided almost in half between the highlands and the lowlands, so it offers a wide variety of sights. the island is relatively large (relative to scottish isles) at 20 miles from head to toe but is a small distance to cover in a vehicle.
|photo by zizi|
we started out our journey with one main destination: the arran distillery.
we went on the distillery tour, which lasted about an hour and took us though the whole distillery. the tour guide explained that they are the 5th smallest distillery in scotland and the only legal distillery since island prohibition about 150 years ago. they officially opened their doors in 1995 when they were ready to release their flagship 10 year single malt.
through the tour, we were shown all the tools of the trade/art and the intimate workings of the amazingly hand-crafted vats, barrels and copper stills. arran whiskey mainly uses american white-oak bourbon casks because american bourbon is legally obliged to discard/sell their casks after a single use. arran also purchases sherry, and fine wine and port casks from europe as well to accentuate the flavours of their fine whiskey.
unlike most island whiskeys, arran does not have a peat infused flavour. the proprietor favorite malt was apparently macallen, i had the chance to have a wee chat with the tour guide after the tasting, and wanted to create an extremely smooth and clean island malt that embodied the clarity and freshness of the local water. he carried out geological surveys with glasgow university to identify the area with the cleanest water, which apparently is the freshest in the whole UK. the source is from loch na davie fed by underground springs high in the mountains, and during its decent it gets tossed around and filtered through peat which deposits most of its mineral content to result in amazingly clean and soft water.
we tasted their award-winning 10 year. then i tried their sherry cask-strength… and then the 14… and then i bought some. the effort, passion, and skill of the distillers working there really shine through their whiskey. it was some of the best i’ve ever had. they love their whiskey, and it’s very evident.
ok enough writing, on with the photos!
off to our next destination… post2 to follow sometime in the near future!