The Arran Malt “The Man with the Golden Glass” 12-Year Cask Strength Scotch Whisky Review


Scotch distilling is an old, respected trade. Many distilleries go back a couple hundred years. Just off the west coast of Scotland is the Isle of Arran, a pair of distilleries stand, busily cranking out whisky. However, Isle of Arran Distillers is a relative newcomer - it wasn't erected until 1995!


Way back when, the island was home to over 50 distilleries, but they're long and gone. Most were illegal operations, with a handful on the up and up. But, for whatever reason, they all folded. Construction on this new distillery started in 1994 but was quickly shut down. Of all things, it was a pair of golden eagles that decided to nest. Once the eagles vacated, construction resumed, and the Lochranza Distillery opened. Most recently, they opened a second location called the Lagg Distillery. Due to its location, it is considered part of the official Highland region (and the unofficial Islands region).


Arran Distillers is part of a shrinking breed of independently owned Scotch distilleries. Its Production Director (which most folks would call a Master Blender or Master Distiller) is James MacTaggart. He's been there 14 years; before that, he was at Bowmore for over three decades. The Distillery Manager is Stewart Bowman, who joined the team in 2011 with an extensive whisky and beer background.


Arran produces primarily unpeated single malt whisky, which is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Also interesting is that nearly everything is 46% ABV (92°). One thing that makes Arran special is the quality of water it utilizes. It is uniquely sourced by Arran.


Today, we’re not exploring something 46% ABV. We’re checking out The Arran Malt “The Man with the Golden Glass” 12-Year Cask Strength single malt Scotch. This one commemorates the 12th anniversary of James MacTaggart’s coming on board. The casks were filled in 2006 and finished in hand-selected Palo Cortado sherry casks.  


It weighs a healthy 51.88% ABV (103.6°) with a suggested price of $85.00 for a 700ml. Like any other single malt Scotch, it is made from 100% malted barley. In the typical Arran fashion, it is non-chill filtered and naturally colored.


A friend provided me with a sample of this Scotch, so let’s #DrinkCurious and discover what it is all about.


Appearance: I poured this whisky into my Glencairn glass to sip neat. It revealed a thick golden color and produced a medium rim with sticky droplets.


Nose: As I brought the glass toward my face, there was a fruity blast of peaches, pineapples, juiced oranges, and lemon zest. Further inspection added honey and grass. I also found milk chocolate when I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate: This whisky’s texture was in a league of its own. It was partially silky, then dry, then airy. Yet, that description doesn’t paint a clear picture; unfortunately, I don’t know how to word it differently.


The front of my palate experienced milk chocolate, orange zest, and salt that could easily be mistaken for a candy bar. Midway through, I tasted lemon and lime juices along with honey. Pistachio nuts, white pepper, and ginger spice flavors formed the back.   


Finish: The 52-second finish (which easily makes it a long duration) featured a lot of citrus, including lemon, lime, and orange. The lime was the bolder of the trio. Ginger spice and white pepper tingled my tongue and throat, while pistachio nuts, chocolate, and dry leather rounded everything out.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Isle of Arran Distillers consistently impresses me. Long story short, The Old Man With The Golden Glass is unlike any other whisky from any continent I’ve tasted. There was so much happening simultaneously, and I’m still befuddled trying to describe its mouthfeel.


Are you going to have to put forth effort to find it? Yeah. It was a limited-edition Scotch that an excellent whisky bar might have on the shelf. There are probably a few still on store shelves, although at what price is anyone’s guess.


I suggest that if you can find it at a store for under $175.00, grab a Bottle. Otherwise, get yourself a pour from that well-stocked bar. You’ll want to taste this. I’m thrilled I had the opportunity. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.