Thursday, October 22, 2015

Arran Distillery 20th Anniversary Event & Special Release in Japan

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo

Isle of Arran Distillery turned 20 this year, and while most other places in the world are waiting until next year to bring out the bells and whistles, in Japan this is the big celebration year. Here, coming of age is celebrated at age 20 – that’s when people can vote and drink alcohol.
To mark the occasion, Whisk-e (Arran’s distributor in Japan), is throwing a big party at the Park Hotel in Shiodome on 12 November (7:30-9:30pm). Arran Distillery Managing Director Euan Mitchell is flying over for the party, and in addition to some recent and not-so recent releases – stuff that you can only find at auctions or bars, if you’re lucky – people will also get the chance to try two new bottlings that haven’t made it to these shores yet: “Illicit Stills” (the first in a new trilogy called “The Smuggler’s Series”, which we had the chance to try straight from the vatting tank when we were at the distillery earlier this year and is a real treat!) and “The Bothy” (finished in quarter-casks). But there’s more… a very special Japan-only release will be unveiled at the party.

We spoke with David Croll, CEO of Whisk-e, and asked him to put the special release and the anniversary in perspective:

“Arran Distillery has a very special meaning for us as a company and for me personally. Purchasing one of the Founders' Bonds back in 1995, after a long phone conversation with Harold Currie (who fulfilled his dream to open his own distillery when aged 70 – an inspiration to us all!), was our first step into the drinks industry and the start of the business we have today.
 Arran was a craft distillery before the term had really been invented and many of the current new market entrants can learn from their experiences. They have been through challenging times but now as they celebrate their 20th anniversary, the words 'new' and 'young' are long-forgotten and many of their recent releases have been launched to critical acclaim.

I was lucky enough to spend a year living on Arran during my transition from banker to purveyor of fine whiskies, and strolling across the Lochranza golf course for the morning ritual of a chat, a coffee and often something stronger with the sadly now-deceased Gordon Mitchell was something that will always live with me. Gordon was the first distillery manager at Arran, one of the ‘old school’ but a master of his trade. Many of the bottlings receiving such praise now were distilled and casked under his leadership. One of them is the 20th Anniversary Cask- 1995 #007 – yes, the 7th cask ever to be filled at Arran.
 This was one of my own personal casks and I wanted to keep it longer but was persuaded that this anniversary was a fitting time to release it. It was re-racked several years ago into a fresh sherry hogshead and with a strength that has dropped naturally to close to 50%, combines a powerful richness with a soft elegance.

But don't take my word for it – why not come and join us at the Arran 20th Anniversary Party at the Park Hotel in Shiodome on Nov 12th. You can try a sample of this 20th Anniversary Cask as well as previews of other upcoming releases and a few bottles from the archives.”

The special 20th Anniversary decanter and box were designed by Glencairn Crystal. The decanters were hand-blown so they vary slightly in size. Because of this, the fill levels appear to be different (they aren’t!). This special release will available from the better liquor outlets in Japan in the near future.

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