In this author’s opinion, no distillery is doing more with wine cask finishing these days than The Arran Malt. In perhaps their most successful wine finish yet, the Amarone Cask Finish takes standard Arran whisky and ages it in casks that previously held Amarone della Valpolicella, a dry Italian red wine. While this whisky is not age-stated, it nonetheless demonstrates how wonderful a properly balanced Scotch can be. Some purists may balk at the strong wine-based flavour profile, however in our opinion this demonstrates how well scotch whisky and wine can play off each other, when properly executed.
Nose: Fresh pressed grape juice shines through. This nose is not typical of a scotch at all. Red wine dominates, but mingles well with the light vanilla background. After water is added, the freshness of the grapes permeates the nose even further.
Palate: The palate can be simply described as powerful. A touch hot perhaps, and while this reveals it as somewhat of a young whisky, the substance of this dram does come through on the tip of the tongue. A hint of chocolate adds a bit of depth that is otherwise lacking in this expression. Adding water clouds the whisky, a sign that it hasn’t been chill-filtered. (A good thing!). The wine flavours push through more towards the back of the palate this time, and strawberries become apparent. Still a rich dram even after water is added.
Finish: The finish quickly mediates the heat of the palate, especially if water is added. The wine flavours quickly evaporate, leaving a beautifully dry toasted malt lingering on the tongue.
Overall: Don’t be put off by the colour of this whisky, which actually is closer to that of a rosé wine. While this was thoroughly enjoyed by all present, we consider this a novelty scotch. The Arran has consistently put out good quality expressions with many different finishes, and for $71.00 at the LCBO, a decent buy.