Until the 1830s there were at least three distilleries producing whisky on the Isle of Arran (some estimates say as many as 50!), but the whisky currently marketed under the island’s name is made at none of these former sites. Instead, it comes from one of Scotland’s newest whisky ventures: the Arran distillery was built in 1995 by a former director of Chivas. Stylistically, its output since then can be compared to more famous “experimental” distilleries like Kilchoman, Bruichladdich and Edradour. with a wide range of cask finishes and peating levels making up for the initially young age of its spirit. More recently, as it has matured, Arran whisky has revealed itself to be an exceptionally gentle and full malt, delicate in an almost Lowland style with a rewarding complexity. The distillery is now owned by a group of private shareholders, making it one of the few remaining “independent” distilleries in Scotland.
While it was being constructed, a pair of golden eagles built their nest on a cliff by the distillery. Because golden eagles are a protected species, construction on the distillery had to be halted until they had left. The birds visible on the label of Arran’s bottles may be a nod to this legacy, making Arran one of the few whisky brands with good reason to market itself with Scotland’s national eagle.