It is very common to confuse Island single malts with "Islay" single malts. They can be very different. Islay is a single island in the south known for peaty and smoky flavors. Island malts encompass most of the rest of the western and northern islands of Scotland and they can taste more like Highlanders with a hint of sea spray. That is the case with Arran. Think herbs and biscuits with sea-salt caramels and dry grass.
Arran, the only distillery on the Isle of Arran, was founded in 1994 by Harold Currie, a former Chivas Brothers director. While this distillery is relatively new it has already proven that it is capable of producing outstanding Whisky.
In the past 20 years they have won a number of prestigious awards and accolades. Most of their liquid gold turns into single malts, but they produce blended Scotch as well as liqueur. It shows that great Scotch can be produced even with a lack of decades or centuries of tradition in a distillery. Arran is one of the last remaining independent Scottish distilleries.
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During construction, a rare Golden Eagle nested on the construction site. They halted construction until the eaglets had fully fledged, and were ready to move on.
Arran is the first distiller on the island since 1837, when the "Lagg Distillery" closed its doors.
Harold Currie is very patriotic, and a big fan of Robert "Bobby" Burns, the national poet of Scotland. The Distillery is an official sponsor of related Burns events, and has named special releases in his honor.
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Arran Distillery is the only distillery on the Isle of Arran, which sits to the east of Islay, in the Firth of Clyde as it opens into the Irish Sea. The distillery is at the northernmost tip of the island, in the small town of Lochranza.
The story of Arran Distillery starts with Harold Currie. Harold was a director of Chivas, and after a distinguished career there he set out to establish his own. Being a student of Whisky history, he knew that the Island of Arran had, at one time, more than 50 active distilleries, including legal and illegal ones.
However, logistics, shipping, and access to barley and wood caused all production to be moved to the mainland. Harold decided to bring the Whisky back to the Island. Isle of Arran Distillery opened in 1995, they are currently winning awards and building a fan base. Cheers to Harold.
Arran uses almost all of their production in the creation of their single malt lineup, which includes 10YO, 12YO, 14YO, and a unique 18YO. There are a few wood changes mixed in there to keep it interesting.
To their credit, their standard strength is 46% ABV -- which most of us think is the perfect "Sweet Spot" to maintain character and flavor, and to hold up to ice. This is a smaller shop, so production is limited to less than 750,000 liters per year.
CountryUnited Kingdom, Scotland
OwnerIsle of Arran Distillers
No. of stills1 wash, 1 spirit
AddressThe Arran Distillery, Lochranza, Isle of Arran KA27 8HJ, United Kingdom