Arran Marsala Cask

The move to Ireland has taken a lot of time and left me with a bit of the sniffles that whiskey isn’t doing the trick to cure, so today’s review is an old Scotch review I had lying around. After all is said and done though, the dram is fantastic, and I am wishing I had a few more with me now.

Arran has been pushing out limited edition whiskies for a while now, and the Marsala Cask Edition is a 2018 addition to their rota. Finished in Marsala casks as the name implies, it’s difficult to see why something such as this isn’t a distillery norm; complex and smooth, affordable, a great chance to try something new while still being recognisable as whisky, I’m a big fan of this whisky and a lot of what Arran do, but then again I am a sucker for a cask finish. This particular dram was dropped into my glass after I enquired about a port cask finish (I never can get enough), and the bar had precious few, recommending this instead. I’m glad they made me budge.


As soon as I lifted my glass I was shocked to find myself swept away to a Patisserie sitting on the French Belgian border, hand pressed coffee being made in the background by a true barista, dark chocolate with dustings of chilli and coffee grinds, a rich cake of orange peel, almonds and apricots sitting in front of me. Another whiff and suddenly that barista has put down a beautifully made ristretto, along with a small bowl of goji berries and red currants, buttered popcorn, a fresh Danish of strawberries, raspberries, marmalade and poached pears, and a tiny touch of frangipani with a light spread of Nutella.

Sinking my teeth into the whisky, suddenly the oak and the spices became apparent, cumin, Chinese 5 spice, nutmeg, hazelnuts popping up through the mix with the chocolate turning from dark to milk, some incense burning in the background next to a vanilla chai spiced candle that is steadily flickering away in the back, providing the dram with warmth and constant reassurance. Some pencil shavings appear, and help against the spicy mouthfeel that threatens to take over the whisky. A few drops of water opened the whisky, and gave sliced pineapple, smoke, fudge, and cleared up the orange oils before the dram quieted down to a vanilla icing base. As I sat, lingered and pondered the dram, the finish helped clear my mind with orange peel, carrot cake, and hazelnut shaving in a chocolate sauce.

It’s a good dram, nothing to sneeze at when all is said and done. If I had to say one things against it, I find that it’s not too amazingly balanced, and a little water goes along way, so I would recommend either just a touch or no water at all, least you lose those large flavours that carry the dram long and far. Heat would probably work better than water as well, though I found my glass empty before my hands could do much work in that department. It honestly reminded me of a well-aged Longmorn finished in a toasted oak barrel, though it breathes a lot better Longmorns tend to. Enjoy your dram’s guys, more to come through the week.

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