The area is home to the purest water in all of Scotland – water that’s been cleansed by granite and softened by peat as it slowly meanders from the mountaintops into nearby Loch na Davie. Arran enjoys a warm microclimate – the atmosphere of sea breezes and clear mountain air, together with the warm flow of the Gulf Stream is ideal for the speedy maturation of single malts. The island has a reputation for producing the highest quality whisky.
We make whisky the old way. It’s not the easiest or the cheapest way, but it’s the best. Our whisky has only a few ingredients - chiefly two types of barley, Optic and Oxbridge, and water from Loch na Davie, the purest in Scotland. The malted barley is mixed with this water in the mash tun to make wort, which goes into wooden washbacks, where yeast is added to begin fermentation. At the end of this process we have a liquid - called wash - that’s about as strong as very strong beer.
The wash is double-distilled in copper pot stills. The first distillation produces a liquid that’s about 23% alcohol, and the second raises this to an average strength of 68%. This colourless liquid is matured in oak casks which have held wines and spirits like sherry and bourbon. The wood gives colour and character, and the choice of cask is probably the most important influence on the character of the end whisky.
Once it reaches the desired age, we bottle most of our single malts at 46% abv or at cask-strength. We never add anything artificial - so all the colour in our whisky comes from the wood of the cask.
Most whisky is chill-filtered to remove a range of substances - including proteins and esters - which are produced in the distillation and maturation process. The reason is largely to do with appearance, as these substances can make the spirit turn a little cloudy when you add water or ice. However we believe the process destroys some of the subtle nuances of aroma and flavour that add to the character of the end whisky, so we never chill-filter our malts.