Isle of Arran revives old style of barley for 10-year-old malt


Orkney Bere isle of arran

Isle of Arran Distillers has produced a new 10-year-old cask-strength whisky made with a little-used type of barley introduced to Scotland by the Vikings.

The Arran Malt Orkney Bere, at 56.2% ABV, showcases the bere barley which is difficult to grow but produces very high-quality spirit. It follows the release in 2013 of a limited release of 4,890 bottles of malt made from bere barley which quickly sold out.

Isle of Arran Distillers teamed up with the Agronomy Institute at Orkney College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, to revive the use of the barley.

Matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 10 years, the whisky is sweet, earthy and malty and conjures flavours of ripe honeydew melon and apples with a finish of vanilla and desiccated coconut.

Euan Mitchell, managing director of Isle of Arran Distillers, said: “We are one of only a handful of distilleries that use bere barley as it is notoriously difficult to grow. However, for those who persevere, it can produce an outstanding malt, as is the case with this highly-anticipated new release.

“We’re constantly looking for new ways to interest and excite whisky aficionados, and as an independent distillery we have the freedom to try new things as we have done with the Orkney Bere edition.

“We are extremely proud to have produced a whisky which uses a crop that is part of Scotland’s rich heritage. We are sure it will thrill and delight those who taste it.”

Thought to have been brought to the UK by the Vikings over 1,000 years ago, bere barley was onw of the most important Scottish crops until the 19th century, used by millers, brewers and distillers. The crop is now only commercially grown on islands off Scotland’s north and west coasts as it has been replaced by higher-yielding modern varieties.

Like all of Isle of Arran Distillers’ whiskies, the new 10-year-old has been made with no artificial colouring and is non-chill-filtered.

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