Two cask strength Scottish block-buster whiskies this month! Doesn’t matter if you’re an Bourbon buff or a Sherry supporter – when it comes to your wood of choice – we’ve got you covered for April with a pair of cask strength, Scottish whiskies that will tickle your fancy, whichever way you turn!
Make way for one of the finest Bourbon matured whiskies out there. A cask-strength celebration of the bourbon cask and all it has to offer from legendary distillery – Arran – the Arran Quarter Cask ‘The Bothy’!
This Arran Quarter Cask expression is a complex, rich and intensely fruity Single Malt Whisky. A Cask Strength delight and full-bodied expression of Arran Single Malt combining power and finesse full of rich vanilla sweetness, creamy custard and fresh fruit. Bottling at natural Cask Strength without chill-filtration or artificial colouring of any sort presents this whisky in its purest form.
The Arran Single Malt selected for this cask strength expression was initially matured in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels before being transferred for secondary maturation into smaller Quarter casks also made of the finest American oak. The process of transferring the whisky into the smaller 125 litre sized casks produces far greater contact between the whisky & oak and a faster, more intense maturation. With the much-loved Quarter Cask expression, Arran proudly bring this tradition back to life.
A ‘bothy’ is the highland slang for a small house or cottage. ‘The Bothy’ name pays homage to the huge illicit whisky industry that existed on the Isle of Arran in days past. The scores of small distilleries were commonly housed in such dwellings – and the whisky commonly aged in small (eg quarter) casks. The smaller casks were much easier to hide and transport than their bigger siblings. Hence, The Arran Quarter Cask ‘The Bothy’.
It’s been a while since we did a good old fashioned, bourbon cask aged whisky. Now we’re often guilty of making a big fuss over a ‘sherry-bomb’ or a ‘peat monster’ but there doesn’t seem to be a colloquialism or nickname for a whisky that sets out to highlight the delights to be found in a bourbon cask. In some, respects they are the under-sung back bone of the whisky industry.
Scottish whisky was traditionally aged in sherry casks from Spain and Portugal since it was first found that leaving raw spirit in a barrel for a few years does wonders for it’s taste!. Due primarily to the abundance of empty sherry casks in Britain rather than any concern for flavours. But in the 1970s this supply of sherry casks was severely limited when Spanish sherry producers began bottling in-house rather than exporting barrels of sherry.
The Scottish whisky industry thus turned to America to supply oak barrels. Luckily – the production of Bourbon in the USA produces many ex-bourbon casks. The reason for this is that to be called ‘Bourbon’, the spirit (amongst other conditions) must be aged in previously un-used barrels. Once the barrel has been used a single time – it can no longer be used to age ‘’bourbon’. Hence, the whisky industry found a new source of casks and the rise of the ‘bourbon matured’ single malt whisky began.
So, what characteristics do Bourbon casks impart to the spirits they mature? They add the vanilla notes, the light florals the citrus and the grassy notes. In a lot of ways, they add the treble notes in a whisky if you’re musically inclined. The green notes vs the red. The fresh fruits notes rather than the stewed. The intense level of charring [usually] given to bourbon barrels acts a a filter – taking out many of the unpleasant tasting compounds in the spirit. Thus ‘rounding’ or ‘smoothing’ the spirit (a ‘subtractive’ process) also effecting the final product.
Nose: Fresh pears and pineapple alongside grassy note, fragrant florals and a vanilla kick.
Palate: A veritable fruit salad on the palate – apples, pears and even some banana notes smothered in baked a vanilla custard.
Finish: Ahh that sweet, sweet vanilla just goes on and on wrapping around oak and citrus notes.
Just a few drops of water in this cask strength offering opens up the flavours wonderfully and tames that high abv remarkably! A sweet, yet crisp bourbon-blaster if ever there was one!