July 1, 2014

Review: The Arran Malt Machrie Moor

Well we've had a few real highlights in recent weeks.  The crazy Willett tasting, some great tastes at Jewbilee, our Battle of the Beasts smoke-a-thon...  It's been a good run.  Sadly this week we've got something of a dud.  Consider it a warning for you peat-heads out there that might be looking for something new.

The Arran Malt Machrie Moor

The Arran Distillery was founded in 1995 and is the only whisky operation on the Isle of Arran.  Arran is an island directly west of Islay, but separated from the Hebrides by the Kintyre Peninsula (where the Cambeltown region is located).  One interesting thing about Arran is that part of the operation is a private barrel program where you as a consumer can own your own cask while it ages in their warehouses.

Today we're trying Machrie Moor, their peated expression.  Here's what they have to say about it:

"The Peated Arran. Lightly peated at 20ppm, this mythical malt has proved a popular addition to the Arran range. On the west coast of the Isle of Arran lies a windswept and mystical peat bog called Machrie Moor. Bronze Age stone circles and standing stones are strewn across its barren, undulating terrain. One of the stone circles is known as Fingal’s Cauldron Seat, where sits a stone with a carved hole. The legendary warrior giant Fingal is said to have tethered his favourite dog Bran to this stone. This peated expression of the Arran Single Malt perfectly captures the rugged beauty and lore of the landscape. Unleash the legend that is Machrie Moor."
Tasting Notes

Nose:  Something here immediately turns us off.  It's rubbery, and has something like rubber cement or white out mixed with a thick putrid greenhouse thing going on.  Like palm fronds (fronds?) There is a tiny hint of peat, but not anything that would make us think this was the "peated" expression.

Palate:  It's consistent with the nose, overly oily without much flavor or smoke to back it up.  It's very white-oak tasting without much char.  Sort of like the opposite that we look for in a new beast...

Finish:  Unremarkable.  Where's the smoke?  This is milder than many malts that don't even claim to be peated.

Review:  We can't say this malt is "bad".  It is quite smooth.  But it's not for us.  Decidedly, not for us.  Something is really weird here.  There's like this vegetal oily thing going on.  Have you ever had hearts of palm from a salad bar or a can that have sat around too long and they're all gross and white and mushy.  That's kind of like this whisky.


It's a "C-" from SmokyBeast.  Look elsewhere if you're a peat lover.  If you're really looking for a lightly peated malt, you're probably better off with something like a Talisker or Highland Park.  Maybe go with a Bunnahabhain or Bowmore.  This one is off-putting.  Are there any Machrie Moor lovers out there?  We'd love to hear from you and maybe there's an element to this one that we're missing.



  1. I have a fourth edition of this whisky and I feel it is a great whisky when you are looking for something totally and completely different. After having a lot of heavy, peated, smokey whisky jumping on this was a very good change. Highland Park, Ardbeg, Lagavullin and Laphroaig are of course classics but alas, you can get bored of them (which I did). I needed a change and this lightly peated, lightly fruited and very malty whisky made it for me. Nice to have on a shelf for that change when you need it. Very different from the rest (not necessarily in a bad way).

    1. Thank for the comment, and glad that you are enjoying it. Of course much of this is a matter of taste. We have plenty of lightly or non-peated whiskies that we enjoy, this one just didn't do it for us. Cheers/sb