Whisky Review – Arran 1996 – 20 year old (Bartels – Highland Laird) @bartelswhisky_

Arran 1996 – 20 year old (Bartels – Highland Laird) 

51.3% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

Cask #1337

520 bottles

£135.00 from Bartels Whisky


Intense perfumed sherry explosion on first pour and sniff. Lots of quite breathtaking dark fruits, with a backing of vanilla and almonds. Subsequent nosing after a while in the glass and this comes across as an older whisky. The sherry intensity has calmed and there’s more old oak, orange oils, complex nuttiness, richer vanilla and dusty museum effect. It’s definitely more old fashioned in its presentation, not as in your face as modern sherried whiskies are. 


Bursting on the palate we have loads of vibrant fruit, red currents, blackberry, cherries and raisin. There is a gentle sweet spiciness running through, clove and cinnamon. The mouthfeel has some substance to it, a pleasant oiliness on the tongue. The development shows a little heat from the ABV, but overall it does not feel like the percentage it is. Further on and the fruit comes back again, rich dark fruit compote which really gives a warming chest and happy factor. That old school feeling is in the palate as well, tasted blind I would have thought this an older bottling of a sherried Speysider. 


Short to medium length stewed fruits and cask dust with a touch of butterscotch sweeties! 

Adding water. 

Tiniest drop added. The nose has a more dusty vanilla note now, a touch more floral, the fruits having been hurt by the drop of water. The palate, while still vibrant in flavour is not as thick on the palate, lots more floral in the later development and finish. This is quite fragile and needs to be treated with respect, and without water. 


A lovely sherried Arran. Very tasty indeed, comes across as an older whisky, with some dusty old fruit bomb intensity without water. Don’t dare to add water though, as it falls apart quite easily. This whisky also gives a little blast to the past, as it feels like an older style of sherried presentation, less in-your-face than more modern sherry monsters. Very good stuff. 

Thanks to Bartel’s whisky for including a sample in a recent purchase.