Sunday, 1 July 2012

Whisky Discovery #150

The Devil's Punch Bowl NAS (52.3% abv OB, Bottled 2012 70cl)
Island Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky
Circa; £66.60 70cl
Devils Punch Bowl from The Arran Malt - spectacular packaging
The Devil’s Punch Bowl is a limited edition expression of The Arran Single Malt inspired by the glacial hollow Coire na Ciche, only accessible by boggy footpaths, and whose sinister presence dominates the north-east coast of Arran.

It is said that Arrans's Master Distiller, James ‘Lucifer’ MacTaggart, has been to 'hell and back' to select only the finest casks for this demonic masterpiece. Each cask has been chosen to contribute a specific characteristic and through the dark art of blending these whiskies have conspired to create an elixir of exceptional complexity and finesse.

Drawn from 24 different Arran casks, including Sherry Butts from 1996, it's also the first whisky from the Arran Distillery to combine both peated and un-peated casks. James MacTaggart goes on to say "The Sherry Butts act like the rhythm section of a band; setting the tone and driving the character of the malt. Deep in colour and rich on the palate these casks are the heartbeat of this whisky. The 1996 Bourbon Barrels add a wonderful honeyed sweetness to proceedings whilst the Sherry Hogsheads imbue a perfect harmony of aroma and flavour. As a unique twist I have added some of our 2006 Peated Arran, in combination with regular un-peated Arran for the very first time, giving the finish a subtle smoky edge.

Only 6,660 bottles of the ‘Devil’s Punch Bowl’ will be released worldwide, bottled at cask strength of 52.3% abv, and like the rest of the Arran range is non chill filtered and no artificial colouring is used.

So what did I think?

I had barely finished my blog post on the Arran Golden Eagle when I first heard about this new release. With the launch date to coincide with the Distillery Open Day at the end of June, I managed to get hold of a generous sample to taste without making the journey to the Isle of Arran. To be honest I would have much rather be at the distillery tasting it, but that wouldn't have been possible this time. So a huge thanks to The Arran Malt for sending me the sample for me to air my thoughts.

Just as the tasting notes state the nose is certainly fresh and vibrant with initially strong sherried fruits, candied peel, orange marmalade, rich vanilla essence and a light butterscotch sweetness. With water, and at 52.3% abv it can take a good drop of water, the sweet vanilla and butterscotch flavours come to the forefront. With five peated casks in the mix, I was expecting some peaty smoke on the nose but wasn't really able to pick anything out.

Rich spicy fruits on the palate initially, lots of dark black cherry and a lovely aniseed comes through before the slightest smokiness of the peated whisky comes through.

With a long lingering finish with a lovely balance of toffee sweetness and spicy white pepper with a final delicate fragrant pipe smoke at the very end.

I went onto taste this head to head with The Golden Eagle I bought at the beginning of the month. In the glass they both look very similar, a beautiful rich golden colour, but while the Eagle is light and fruity, the Devil's Punch Bowl is definitely more menacing with the darker fruits and smoky finish.

Another great whisky from this award winning distillery, with stunning packaging too, and I'm sure will fly off the shelves too quickly for most of us whisky drinkers.

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