Sunday, 9 December 2012

Whisky Discovery #280

Machrie Moor (46% abv Third Edition Released 2012)
Island Single Malt Whisky
circa £40.00 70cl
Isle of Arran Distillers
The Isle of Arran Distillers have been producing a peated malt every year since 2004. The malted barley is gently peated to a level of 14 ppm and laid to mature in American oak casks. The peated malt whisky has been used in a number of releases over the years, most notably the recent Devil's Punch Bowl, but Machrie Moor is a limited release using just the peated whisky and our tasting sample was from the recently launched third release and a run of 12,000 bottles. As with all of the expressions of the Arran Malt we have tasted this is non chill-filtered, naturally coloured and bottled at a respectable 46% abv

Also, like a number of the Arran Malts this expression has been named after an island landmark.  On the west coast of the Isle of Arran lies a windswept and mystical peat bog called Machrie Moor. Bronze Age stone circles and standing stones are strewn across its barren, undulating terrain. One of the stone circles is known as Fingal's Cauldron Seat, where sits a stone with a carved hole. The legendary warrior giant Fingal is said to have tethered his favourite dog Bran to this stone. Bran features on the label of this release, still tethered to Fingal's Cauldron Seat.

So What Did We Think?

Kat Said: I tasted this whisky before I read any official tasting notes or anything about the whisky. Generally this is how I like to taste my whiskies for the first time so that I’m not influenced by any power of suggestions (this includes not reading what my Dad’s already posted). I find it more interesting this way. 

It was a surprise to me to find that this Arran is slightly peated. I didn’t specifically pick out peat; I didn’t even find it smoky. Here’s what I got. 

Nose:  Fresh crunchy Granny Smith’s apples with its slight greenness and sharp acidity, hot pear crumble, sea salt, light fragrance of seasoned oak that lingers in the background, and towards the end of the dram there was some white pepper coming through. 

Taste:  Strong liquorice at the very beginning, I would say more like that of the root than of boiled or soft sweets. It’s still sweet but with an antiseptic quality that numbs your mouth and leaves it slightly cools at the same time. Towards the middle there’s some heat from cloves and the sweetness is more noticeable (just of normal white sugar, not Demerara or anything like that), then towards the end a light floral notes comes through. 

Finish:  At the end it initially left a fresh mouth feel with a nice bitterness quality that balances out the sweetness from earlier. The bitterness was more like that from the peel of a Granny Smith’s, the sweetness came back (more like Demerara sugar this time), and it ended with the liquorice taste. 

Overall it was a pleasant dram which I enjoyed. I particularly liked that the different notes I picked up on the nose filtering through to the entire whisky. Like a good CV this whisky this whisky told me in the beginning ‘So this is what I can do’, then on the palate it says ‘these are what makes me who I am’, and at the end leaving me to feel completely in sync with it. 

tasted this weekend just gone where we had snow fall non-stop for 24 hours or so. It’s a good whisky to help warm up your cockles. 

Dave Said: In the glass it's very pale, like a white wine, and swirled around the glass leaves oil like droplets around the sides.

The immediate note I wrote down was that it smelled like buttered toast. Granary bread of course! After the buttered toast the citrus and vanilla notes came forward, quite lemony but the lightest scent of orange marmalade too (going back to my toast). After a little while I was able to tease out some fruit with notes of pineapple and peaches. At 14ppm I think this is a very lighted peated malt and the peat notes really need to be teased out, this is no peat monster. 

On the palate there is a fresh citrus tang, more limes than lemons now. A fiery pepper spice mid palate and the slightest hint of peat smoke, nothing heavy and more of a light char. I added a drop of water and the nose sweetens immediately releasing a little fragrant smoke at the same time. The water tames the fiery pepper on the palate and gives a rich and creamy mouth-feel while the lime tang is sill there.

The finish is crisp and clean with citrus zest and a little sweet vanilla, again the slightest hint of smoke. This comes across as quite a young whisky, but really quite enjoyable. The peat levels is quite low compared to some of the peated malts I've tasted and so you have to search hard for it, that is until the glass is empty. Returning to the empty glass to nose, only after a few minutes of finishing the last sip, the peat smoke is much stronger and certainly drew me back to pour myself another

And finally:

Many thanks to Isle of Arran Distillers for sending us a generous sample of this new release to review.

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