Arran 18yo & Lochranza Castle

Surprisingly, my exploration into Arran whiskies has been somewhat limited on my whisky journey. A mere 18 expressions have been recorded in my whisky tracking Google sheet, which includes the Lochranza variant that I will delve into shortly. Despite this modest number, I hold the Arran distillery in high esteem, particularly for their unpeated releases. It’s a distillery I frequently recommend to those seeking both flavour-packed and reasonably priced whiskies.

The acquisition of the Arran 18-year-old bottle, which forms the focal point of my review below, was a deliberate choice. I found myself orchestrating an online tasting featuring whiskies from the Scottish Islands a few months ago, and naturally, the Isle of Arran deserved representation. Whilst Lagg, the second distillery established by Arran Distillers, had already unveiled its inaugural whisky, I yearned for something more aged, leading me to the Arran 18-year-old expression.

In this review, I aim to explore the nuances of this Arran 18yo and compare it with the Lochranza Castle edition.

Arran 18-year-old (2022) Review

The Arran 18-year-old I’m currently exploring was bottled in 2022 and stands as the latest release. However, there’s an air of uncertainty surrounding its availability, with indications suggesting it might be on hold or, potentially, discontinued. A notable absence from Arran’s official website further adds to the intrigue. This particular expression underwent maturation in a blend of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, leaning perhaps towards a higher proportion of the former. When comparing it to previous releases, you can notice a potential shift as the 2022 edition presents a lighter hue. Previous iterations, marked by a deeper coloration, hint at the possibility of a more pronounced sherry cask influence in earlier releases. True to the Arran tradition, this whisky remains unchill-filtered and boasts natural coloration, drawing its colour solely from the interactions with the casks and their previous content. I acquired this bottle on offer for just shy of €100, although it has now become a rarity, with most stock depleted. For enthusiasts seeking this elusive 2022 edition, remaining stock is found in select retailers, albeit at a premium, as prices range from €130 to €175.

Arran 18-year-old




Neat: The nose unfolds with a rich infusion of honey, predominantly ripe peach, and notes of vanilla. A subtle touch of ground white pepper adds a delicate spiciness, complemented by the sweetness of pear. In the background, a faint trace of a distant breeze through sandalwood. There’s also a subtle hint of a dusty leather armchair.


Neat: The palate offers a continuation of fruity notes, with pronounced flavours of peach, apricot, pear, and gooseberries. This is followed by an interplay of chili-infused chocolate, black pepper, and espresso, accompanied by a layer of wood spices. While the mouthfeel tends towards a thinner consistency, it remains acceptable, showcasing Arran’s wise decision not to further dilute this whisky. Additional nuances include hints of lavender candy, a subtle touch of soap (manageable), and a trace of copper coin. The leather armchair note from the nose resurfaces (Note: No actual licking of armchairs advised).


The conclusion is mildly drying, featuring a combination of chocolatey leather notes (no illicit substances involved, just flavours), maintaining a medium length. Subtle elements of lemon peel emerge alongside a lingering spiciness.


This whisky stands out as a very good one, delivering a notably fruity profile with a distinct influence from bourbon casks overshadowing the sherry ones. The overall balance is commendable, and while I detected a faint hint of soap, it could be attributed to my open bottle aging for several months – a nuance that might not be present in freshly opened ones.

In my humble opinion, this whisky offers great value, especially if priced under £80/€100. However, I have reservations about paying more. I sincerely hope it makes a return to the market soon, ideally at a price point not exceeding the limited 17-year-old edition they introduced in 2023 (approximately £115/€125). Given its quality, I would rate it a solid 7.

Rating: 7/10

Arran Lochranza Castle (2019) Review

The Arran Lochranza Castle marks the second instalment in the Explorers Series, a collection of four releases paying homage to the scenic beauty of the Isle of Arran. Preceded by the inaugural Brodick Bay edition, named after the bay on the island’s east coast, the series also includes expressions dedicated to Kildonan & Pladda Island and Drumadoon Point.

Released in 2019, the Arran Lochranza Castle edition commemorates a tower house in the Lochranza village. This 21-year-old single malt undergoes maturation in ex-Sherry hogsheads, culminating in an Amontillado sherry finish. For a detailed exploration of Amontillado, I recommend visiting Ruben’s Bottled at a robust 47.2% ABV and maintaining Arran’s commitment to authenticity, the whisky undergoes neither chill filtration nor the addition of artificial colouring. Encased in a decanter reminiscent of the one used for the Glendronach Grandeur we previously reviewed, the Lochranza Castle edition reflects a refined presentation. However, this release now commands a price north of €300, doubling its original retail value. Despite the premium cost, the experience and craftsmanship may well justify the investment for enthusiasts seeking a remarkable expression from the Arran distillery.

Arran Lochranza Castle




Neat: The nose presents a deeper profile compared to the 18-year-old expression. Notable scents include dried figs, dates, orange marmalade, and quince jam, alongside a subtle tropical nuance reminiscent of passion fruit juice and pineapple. The slightly elevated alcohol by volume (ABV) is discernible, with additional notes of paint thinner, wood furniture polish, new leather shoes, and a general woody aroma, including walnut oil.

With water: Reduction amplifies the paint thinner note, and adds something akin to the inside of a metallic tube, with faint hints of strawberries emerging in the background.


Neat: The palate delivers a heightened perception of alcohol more than what you would expect from the small ABV difference, accompanied by a pronounced warmth. In contrast to the 18-year-old, this expression leans less sweet, featuring intensified notes of dark chocolate and espresso. Initially, the fruity elements from the nose seem subdued, making way for distinct flavours such as lemon peel, Tabasco, and grapefruit, contributing a pleasant combination of sourness and bitterness. Subtle hints of menthol cigarettes and ginger.

With water: The addition of water unveils a surge of lemon juice and refreshing sourness. A nuanced increase in wood notes is discernible, carefully balanced. Introducing a touch of sweetness, the palate introduces a note of icing sugar.


The finish is enduring, with lingering impressions of ginger, red currants, and chocolate. In the distance, hints of passion fruit.


The Arran Lochranza Castle imparts a distinct autumnal or wintry character, setting it apart from the Arran 18-year-old. Marked by a more pronounced sherry influence, it exudes a ‘darker’ quality, emphasising warmth and comfort over bright fruity notes. The timing of its bottling seems judicious, capturing the right balance before the wood influence becomes overpowering. While it was reasonably priced at its original cost, a €300 price tag seems steep for my liking. Despite this, I find it slightly more appealing than the 18-year-old, warranting a half-point increase in my rating.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thanks a lot Renaud! Photos lifted from Whiskybase as usual, thanks guys!

But Don’t Trust Our Word For It…

Talking about Ruben earlier, he also reviewed this whisky back in 2019.

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