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SCOTCH REVIEW: Two Expressions From a Western Island

- Isle of Arran 10-year old Single Malt, Highlands, Scotland ($60)

- Isle of Arran Barrel Reserve Single Malt, Highlands, Scotland ($50)

by Andrew Chalk

Isle of Arran Distillers is a really interesting distiller making really interesting Scotch. The company’s date of establishment, embossed on the front of the bottle, is only 1995. Odd, that an industry steeped in centuries of history should have a newcomer appear in the modern era.

The founders may have had one eye on the fate of a predecessor, the Lagg Distillery, that failed, in part due to mismanagement, 150 years earlier for they played a ‘long game’, in which every strategic move was close to a ‘bet the company’ event.

1993 Search began for a distillery site;

1994 Construction started on the distillery at Lochranza, at the north end of the island;

1995 First spirit ran through the spirit safe at 2:29pm on 29th June;

1997 Visitor center opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II.Two casks presented for Princes William and Harry;

1998 First legal dram on Arran for over 160 years drank by film star Ewan McGregor. It is 3-years of age;

2006 First 10 year-old whisky released;

2007 Named Scottish Distillery of the Year;

2010 First 14 year-old whisky released. Sailed up the Clyde to Glasgow. First release of the peated expression Machrie Moor;

2014 Visitor Centre awarded ‘Distillery Visitor Experience of the Year’;

2015 Visitor Centre awarded ‘Distillery Visitor Experience of the Year’ (again!). First White Stag premium expression released;

2016 First 18 year-old whisky released. Arran Malt and Music Festival inaugurated;

2018 Remember that Lagg distillery that closed in 1840? The company bought the rights to the name and began construction on a state-of-the-art distillery on the south coast of the island;

2019 Production begins at Lagg Distillery and an exclusive 700-member Lagg Cask Society is formed. Arran single malts get a rebrand and the company is awarded Brand Innovator of the Year (The images in this article reflect the new branding).

The branding may have changed, but the whisky remained the eternal constant. Scotch drinkers, especially lovers of the Highlands expression (specifically the Coastal West Highlands expression) are enthusiastically referred to this producer.




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