Isle of Arran Robert Burns Malt

Arran Robert Burns Malt bottle

Distillers often invoke the name of Robert Burns. It's hardly surprising. We toast his memory in whisky every January 25th. Burns wrote about whisky, he worked for a time as an excise man, he was fond of a dram. I wonder what he would have made of this one, from the Isle Arran Distillery?

It would seem much smoother than any whisky to be had all those years ago. In the eighteenth century whisky was generally drunk fresh from the still, flavoured with herbs and spices, and sweetened, to disguise the raw, fiery character. Long cask ageing is a relatively recent development.

A pale gold colour, the 2012 release of the Arran Robert Burns Malt opens with green herb & spicy notes – cardomom comes to mind – a touch of honeycomb, and then a range of cask aromas. There's the gentle vanilla of bourbon barrels and the dried fruits of sherry, along with something which suggests that there are some older whiskies in this vatting (although overall it's definitely a youthful dram).

The palate is soft and easy, a mix of malted biscuit notes with green and yellow fruits, and then the malt comes back in a more beery form.

The Arran Robert Burns Malt is a light sweet and easy dram – a good one to pour for a friend who is new to whisky, and a good whisky with which to toast the Bard.

40%/70cl around £30 from Master of Malt, the Good Spirits Co, and other specialist retailers.