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ARRAN SMUGGLER’S SERIEs VOL.1 ‘THE ILLICIT STILLS’ (2015, OB, 56,4%)

In autumn 2015 Arran released the first bottling of the Smuggler’s serie, a limited bunch of bottlings dedicated to the tradition of illict distillation on the Isle of Arran, with fancy bottles and abitious boxes: a fake book, decorated as a millennial graphic designer probably imagines a book from 19th Century, hiding a bottle inside. A few days ago the third chapter was released, but as usual we’re late and we have to taste Vol.1 Bottling, “Illicit Stills”. We don’t know the age, but there’s different peated Arran (20 and 50 ppms), there’s Port matured Arran… There’s a complex recipe, a strong marketing concept, let’s see if this theater stands still after the glass’ proof.

arran-malt-smugglers-edition-2015-copyN: whatever the recipe is, this illicit still gives very fresh notes of a young spirit, with a peaty vein that doesn’t want to remain on a side. There’s a lot of fresh butter, a lot of barley (we’d say porridge), candied fruit; maybe some milk too. A lot of lemon, icing sugar. After a while, a warmer sweetness comes out, with jam, a citrus marmalade maybe? And then there is peat: a slight smokiness that reminds us of a smoked scamorza cheese.

P: the first impact is all on lemons, it seems we’re biting a slightly smoked lemon covered with icing sugar. Scary? Not at all, actually. Again buttery notes, and of panna cotta; a slightly smoky edge, almost gunpowdery, coming from the balance between the lively peat and the echo of the Port sweetness. A sense of abstract vanilla and a lot of youth.

F: long and lingering, lemony and smoky; again panna cotta. Some bread.

The first chapter of the series has a great citrusy power, literally exploding on the palate; and you can feel a heavy peat, not only a verbal detail but true substance. And yet, apart from the mere list of aromas and the pleasant experience, the overall profile seems a bit thin, without depth if we may dare, and as far as we’re concerned it doesn’t make justice to a lovely distillery, that already showed a precise style, that we really enjoy btw. That said, we don’t know if reading this words the emotion pervading our hearts is clear, so let’s stick to the cold evidence of numbers: 82/100. Bye.

Recommended soundtrack: Kiasmos – Looped.

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