Booze Review

Whisky Review – Speyburn Arranta Cask


Manzanilla. Fino. Amontillado. Oloroso. Palo Cortado. Pedro Ximenez. Moscatel. Whisky lovers are familiar with the names of these Sherry varieties that are used to age and sometimes “finish” the magical elixir that we hold near and dear to our hearts. When we first saw the words “Arranta Cask” which appear rather prominently on the label of Speyburn whisky that you see in the above photo, we thought for sure that “Arranta” was some sort of rare Sherry cask that we’d never heard of. It turns out that we couldn’t have been more wrong.

Here’s what Speyburn has to say about their Arranta Cask expression…

Inspired by the Gaelic word meaning ‘intrepid and daring’, Arranta Casks Single Malt has been crafted using specially selected, first fill ex-bourbon casks in American Oak, to give this spicy Scotch whisky a uniquely bold and characterful flavour profile. Our Distillery Manager hand-selects each one, marking it with his distinctive ‘A-star’ seal of approval.

If we had a full bottle of Speyburn with all of the original packaging at our disposal, there would have been no question as to how this whisky was matured, but since all we had to go on was the hand written label on the sample in the photo below, our confusion is somewhat understandable. Or perhaps we should have just read the email we received from the PR firm that supplied us with this sample of Arranta Cask. They laid it all out very clearly in their description of this Speyburn expression. I guess we’re just lazy.

Now that we know a bit more about Speyburn’s Arranta Cask (and just how lazy we really are!), let’s get on with our review…

  • Appearance: Pale amber color.
  • ABV: 46%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Not too vapory at the start. Once it opened up, I picked up witch hazel, iced animal crackers, coconut macaroons, and cherries.
    • G-LO: Whoa! Super vapory at the start. Gonna let this sit for a few minutes. Ahhh… That’s better! There are some interesting things in the nose. Vanilla custard, toffee, pipe tobacco, clove, and some toasted coconut.
  • Taste:
    • Limpd: Medium mouthfeel. Sweet up front with a rising heat. Cracked black pepper in the middle that builds steadily. At the finish, there’s a return to sweetness with a reduction in heat as you get to the very end.
    • G-LO: Starts off dry with a good bit of vanilla and cinnamon heat. Pipe tobacco and stone fruit come through in the middle. Gets a bit hotter at the finish (not super hot, just a bit spicier) with some sugary toffee coming through as well.

The Verdict

Limpd: I liked the heat (46% ABV seems about right) and I liked the sweet (never overly so). I also liked the finish. But overall, I didn’t love the Speybyrn because of a medicinal note (Cherry Sucrets?) that I can’t quite put my finger on.

G-LO: I don’t recall ever having anything from the Speyburn distillery. I’m sure I’ve seen it on the shelves, but for whatever reason, I’ve never purchased a bottle. I really liked this whisky. It was quite nice and quite fun thanks to the flavor variability and mild intensity, and given that it retails for $40/bottle, it’s also one hell of a bargain.

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Many thanks to Stephanie Fray of Conundrum Marketing for sending us this sample!

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