We’re starting the week with a very special limited edition single malt from one of our favourite independent distilleries. It’s Arran 17 Year Old!

The Isle of Arran Distillery has an interesting place in the Scotch whisky scene because while it’s young by Scottish standards, it also predates the current distillery boom which was arguably kicked off when the Wills family founded Kilchoman on Islay in 2005.

The Isle of Arran distillery

The Isle of Arran distillery at Lochranza

Whisky returns to Arran

Back in 1995 when production began at Lochranza on the Isle of Arran, the industry was still recovering from the ‘whisky loch’ of the 1980s. Port Ellen had closed in 1983, Bruichladdich in 1993, and the future of Ardbeg looked far from secure. And that’s just on Islay. So opening a new island distillery was a bold move. There hadn’t been any whisky made (legally) on Arran since 1837 when the old Lagg distillery closed.

The man behind the rebirth of Arran whisky was former Chivas Brothers managing director Harold Currie who founded the distillery in 1993 by raising money through private investors. The Arran team had to battle objections from locals and Scottish Natural Heritage – it seems many people didn’t want a distillery on their island – but eventually the first cask was filled on 29 June 1995. The first whisky release was a limited edition three-year-old in 1998. 

Stewart Buchanan Arran whisky

One of the top beards in Scotch whisky

The Arran style

2005 as a landmark year for the new distillery when it released Arran 10-year-old, which has since become something of a classic and firm favourite among the team here at Master of Malt. It’s a fragrant single malt full of orchard fruits which blend beautifully with the vanilla and honey from bourbon casks. There’s much more to Arran, however, than its flagship malt including Port and sherry cask whiskies as well as some peated expressions under the Machrie Moor label. Sadly Currie died in 2016 at age 91 after a lifetime in the Scotch whisky industry. 

In 2019, the Isle of Arran team opened a second distillery at Lagg in the south of the island with the first whisky released in 2022, and now has a core range including the oloroso sherry cask Corriecravie expression. But back to the original Isle of Arran distillery at Lochranza. Today it’s managed by top beard owner Stewart Bowman who you will probably recognise as one of the team that got Brora up and running again. This latest 17-year-old release was aged in a mixture of first and second-fill sherry hogsheads and first-fill bourbon barrels. A total of 12,000 bottles worldwide were filled at 46% ABV and, as with all Arran whisky, it was bottled without colouring and non-chill filtered. You can read what we thought of it below.

Buy a bottle and toast the success of a pioneering distillery that has survived and prospered since its foundation 30 years ago. 

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Apple peel, oak char, toasted almonds, cinnamon, and marmalade.

Palate: Orange peel, vanilla, nutmeg, butterscotch, orchard fruit, and blackberries.

Finish: Soft and creamy with Nutella and apple skins.

Arran 17 Year Old is available from Master of Malt. Click on the link for price and to buy.