After a good 16 and a very good 17, last year's limited release 18 Year Old was a bit mince. There was a bitterness to it which wasn't enjoyable. I understand that Arran had to sell almost everything they produced back in 1995 and 1996, so they were working with very limited choices, but still. They could have waited.
So I didn't really have particularly high hopes for this new permanent release. And thus, find myself somewhat pleasantly surprised, but not delighted.
With its sweet cooked apple notes, this dram is most definitely Arran. The nose is toffee - tarte tatin, in fact, with a subtle sweet spice note. Over time a lifted aroma emerges; some sort of pungent note which isn't menthol or lavender, but which reminds me of both of those things.
The palate is slightly hot, sweet, and has a toffee apple sweetness (but green apples). There isn't much obvious oak, and any malty notes take a while to build.
In conclusion, while this a more than decent dram, I think I'd rather have the 14 Year Old, or one of the finishes - probably the Amarone finish.