Isle of Arran Distillers – After my golf this morning, I headed to Lochranza to meet with Master Distiller, James MacTaggart and his wonderful team at Isle of Arran Distillers.
I interviewed James asking many questions about expertise in his field, his time at Arran Distillers and learning many things about the art of making whisky.
I then joined with Billy (who I might have requested as a tour guide only because he was kilted up and I thought it would be great for my video) and three others before heading off to find out more about the processes here on Arran.
Opening in 1995, when the first spirits ran through the spirit safe, the distillery is relatively young however the expertise they have in their team and the whisky they produce is first class.
I sipped a 14 year old single malt as Billy gave us a history lesson regaling us with tales of smugglers on the island then we watched a quick video.
The water for Arran Whisky comes from Loch na Davie high in the hills above the distillery and is the purest water in Scotland – and I must say it makes a wonderful whisky.
We were then off to the distillery itself and I admit, I asked lots of questions.
I am a knowledge sponge and want to know how everything is done and I learnt so much today.
Billy chatted while I played with the grist and asked more questions. When Billy and the rest of my group headed across the other side of the distillery, I stopped and chatted with John the Stillman.
After rejoining the group and asking a few more questions, it was off to the tasting room.
I was under instructions from the Chairman, Michael Peirce (who I recently met on a plane) to try the 10, 14 and 18 year old whiskies, so that is exactly what I did and sipped a couple more too.
Lined up along the bar the colour difference of the various aged whiskies is quite obvious. The 10 year old had a bit of a chocolate scent and to me the 18 year old smelled of honey.
I also tried a 19 year old single sherry cask whisky and the Machrie Moor which is lightly peated. I was surprised at the difference in the whiskies that were finished in the port wine cask and the red wine cask as I thought the port wine whisky would be a little lighter, however to my palate this was not the case.
I was amazed at the difference in flavour, tone and aftertaste by adding a few drops of water to the whisky. While I enjoyed the delicate flavours and wondered at the science behind their creations, my favourite single malt was the smooth caramel 18 year old.
Finishing up with the deliciousness of the Arran Gold Cream Liqueur, I can understand why it is so popular. Not just as a stand alone drink but added to ice cream at the Arran Dairies and chocolates at James’ Chocolate Shop.
This Island is a haven for fantastic produce – from whisky to cheese to chocolate to ice cream to smoked salmon.
And did I mention the fantastic golf?