It’s hard not to think of sauternes cask finishes as anything but an after dinner drink, sipped in a pairing with dessert. Arran’s offering, perhaps because it’s bottled at 50 percent, brings a bit more of a kick to the table than you’d expect.
Nose: An immediate hit of banana, easing into more honeyed tones. There’s a hint of cake smothered in sweet cream and topped with tinned pineapple. The nose flattened for a bit, leaving me searching for something, anything, but came back with the banana again.
Palate: A burst of sweetness on the palate to start with, with honey front and centre. Overripe grapes, with a hint of spice, cinnamon and dried ginger. There’s a huskiness that brings up faint woody notes and a lingering mouth burn that stays through to the finish.
Finish: Not a very long finish. The woody elements remain at the forefront here, with the grapes and spices playing a diminished, secondary role.
I found the addition of a few drops of water helped both the nose and the palate. On the nose, the fruit was more subdued, with a floral note of banana flowers reaching out to be noticed. On the palate, the water added a mild pepperiness to the spices already there, and replaced the ripe grapes with raisins.
Overall: Not a very complex whisky, nor one that tries to be complicated in what it offers. Long on nose, short on finish, but this is a whisky you could spend time over at the end of an evening. I would suggest adding water, in part to reduce the burn and the sweetness, but more to bring out nuances that you’d otherwise miss.