Arran is a single malt Scotch whisky brand that is produced on the Scottish island of Arran. The spirit is produced at a small traditional distillery on the island. When it opened in the early 1990s it became the first legal distillery on Arran for nearly 150 years and one of the first new wave craft distilleries in Scotland. Since then the brand has grown from strength to strength and has gained fans and numerous top awards around the world.
Arran is known for its highly fragrant and perfumed style of single malt. This is packed with green orchard fruit notes, such as apple and pear, on the palate and has a creamy and gentle feel. This works well with traditional casks such as ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.
These are well represented in the extensive core range which features the no age statement Barrel Reserve, Quarter Cask and Robert Burns plus age statements at 10, 18 and 21 years old. Arran is also known for its use of unorthodox casks. These include ex-Amarone wine, ex-Port and ex-Sauternes dessert wine barrels. All have been released as limited editions.
Arran also releases peated spirit in small quantities and this is bottled under the Machrie Moor label. Machrie Moor is an area of peat bog on the west coast of Arran. This spirit is lightly peated to around 15-20ppm. This makes it less peaty than most Islay whiskies and with a fresher style.
Arran follows traditional whisky-making techniques and has an annual capacity of 1.2 million litres. There is a small 2.5-tonne mash tun and this produces 13 mashes per week. Each mash is fed to one of six fermentation washbacks. These are made of Oregon pine and the fermentation time is 60 hours. There are fours stills that work in two pairs - two wash and two spirit stills. All production is now unpeated. Previously, each year a small amount of peated spirit was produced. However, this has now moved to the company's new Lagg distillery.
The Arran distillery was founded in 1993 by Harold Currie. He formed the Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd and built the first distillery on the island since the 1840s. It is located in the village of Lochranza on the northwest coast of Arran and production started on August 17, 1995. The first single malt was released three years later and these were followed by a series of limited-edition releases. The first official core product, the Arran 10 years old, was launched in 2006. James MacTaggart, the Master Distiller and Director of Production & Operations, joined in 2007 and has overseen much of Arran's success. He was honoured with a special bottling in 2019 named Master of Distilling.
Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd has remained the owner since the 1990s. Their success led to a major expansion plan, firstly with the distillery in 2014 when production and warehousing were increased. Then a second distillery, named Lagg, was built in 2017. This is located in the hamlet of Lagg in the south of Arran and the first distillation took place in March 2019. Lagg was built to distil peated spirit for the company and has an annual production capacity of 750,000 litres. The peat level has also been increased to around 50ppm. With two distilleries, the company decided to rename their original Arran distillery as Lochranza.