Sherry Bomb Sundays – Arran Whisky, SBWAS Exclusive “Deployment 3 and ‘The Bodega’:
The second instalment of ‘Sherry Bomb Sundays‘ is focused on two expressions from the Arran Distillery. Initially looking at a single-cask private bottling for the Sherry Bomb Whisky Appreciation Society (SBWAS), we will also be turning our attention to the more accessible core-range offering ‘The Bodega’.
The Isle of Arran has a rich and deep history of whisky making, although not necessarily always legally! The more recent history has seen the opening of the Arran Distillery in Lochranza in 1995, and Lagg Distillery (their sister operation) in 2019.
Being non-chill filtered, of natural colour, and using locally sourced water has always been at the heart of what the Arran Distillery set out to achieve. With a wide range of core expressions, and many an award under their belt, the Arran Distillery truly is something special.
SBWAS Exclusive “Deployment 3”
The Sherry Bomb Whisky Appreciation Society (SBWAS) was created by Sean Russell as a place for likeminded sherried whisky lovers to come together and share their passion. This is their “third deployment” of single-casks specifically for the society.
Distilled on the 12th December 2013, this whisky spent seven years maturing in an Oloroso hogshead before being bottled at cask strength on the 16th August 2021. Coming in at a punchy 60.1% ABV this expression is non-chill filtered, and of natural colour. There were 317 bottles produced, and we got our hands on bottle 179. As of the time of writing it is no longer possible to purchase this whisky from Royal Mile Whiskies.
Nose: brown sugar molasses, poached pear in red wine, almond, stewed red fruits, cherry jam, coffee beans, dark chocolate, a bitter edge is present
Palate: very chewy texture, raisins, sultanas, honey malt cereal, SO MUCH dried fruit, baking apples, and light sourness
Finish: dark chocolate covered raisin, coffee beans – a beautiful long lingering finish, very light tobacco smoke
A complete coincidence that we stumbled across this bottling on the Royal Mile Whiskies website. But a VERY happy one! An exceptionally rich and decadent dram, this feels like true luxury. The presence of a slight tobacco flavour at the end creates wonderful depth, and maturity to the taste. At 60.1% ABV the alcohol is not overpowering but it does require effort from you; good for a long sipper – not an every day dram. We feel this would pair well as a after-dessert whisky with cheese.
The Bodega, Sherry Cask
If you are interested in a more reliably accessible sherry bomb from the Arran Distillery, then look no further than their core range expression ‘The Bodega’. Also matured in sherry hogshead – although with no age statement attached – this sits at a healthy 55.8% ABV. Typically, you can purchase for between £45 – £55 this offers some of the same gorgeous flavours at the SBWAS private bottling.
Described by the distillery as the “perfect partner to their Quarter Cask” this expression harks back to earlier days at the distillery where is was more typical to mature their spirit in sherry casks.
Nose: Bakewell tart, berry crumble, cherry jam, light salinity, dried fruits, cloves, cinnamon, kirsch, maraschino cherries, light orchard fruits
Palate: quite sweet, very fruity, sticky-toffee pudding with dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, LOTS of raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries
Finish: a relatively short finish, with woody spice, lingering fruits, raw fruit-cake mix
We first tried this dram back in May 2021 as part of our Drams to Door ‘Winey’ box. Originally rating at 4.5 stars out of 5, we have only knocked it back 0.5 rating. It does lack the refinement of the SBWAS bottle, however, the sherry flavours are powerful; coming across immediately on the nose. The high ABV makes for a punchy whisky – creating a fruit forward taste, and round texture. A good sherry-bomb statement to have on your shelf!
Final Thoughts …
As with our first Sherry Bomb Sundays, we do wish that the SBWAS private bottling was not a single-cask. An absolutely delicious, decadent whisky; a real treat to savour and delight in. That being said, the core-range offering from the Arran Distillery is also a fabulous expression. A decent substitute at a more affordable price point (and obviously consistently available!).
We’re going to be keeping our eyes open for other sherry cask whiskies from the Arran Distillery, as we feel the flavour profile pairs exceptionally well with their base spirit! Let us know in the comments your favourite Arran Distillery expression.