Craigellachie is yet another distillery of which I know little, except that it is a workhorse, high-volume distillery in the Speyside whose malt is available only from independent bottlers. The bottle I am tasting tonight is from Gordon & Macphail (who else) and was specially bottled for the Party Source, an excellent store in Kentucky. I have tried only a handful of the Party Source’s private selections, and while they’ve all been solid, none have truly blown me away (unlike, say, some of Binny’s–a Signatory Laphroaig 19, 1990 comes to mind, but that’s neither here nor there). On to the notes!
Craigellachie 11, 1995 (46%, Gordon & Macphail for the Party Source, Cask 3481; from my own bottle)
Nose: Toffee, caramel, juicy fruit (orange, melon), a nice lick of smoke. With time the smoke comes to the fore, but this is never going to be mistaken for an Islay peat monster (or for a malt from any distillery known for highly peated whisky for that matter). Some salt too and with a little more time, some savoury gunpowder which gets more and more intense as it sits.
Palate: A little thin at first but then everything on the nose comes rushing in. Very well integrated and balanced. The smoke kicks into a higher gear at the end. And as on the nose, time brings a lot of salt and meaty gunpowdery notes to the palate as well. At the very end the fruit gets a little more tropical but is bullied around by the salt and gunpowder.
Finish: Medium; some char and then a lot of salt at the end.
Comments: Very consistent from the nose to the palate to the finish. The bottle is almost done, and the gunpowder note has definitely expanded significantly from when it was first opened (which was not very long ago). As it is right now, this may be a touch and go malt for the true sulphur-sensitive but I quite like it. Nothing earth-shattering but a pleasant easy-drinker with just enough complexity and sherry weight to hold your attention. And at the price I got it for (<$50), a very good value. Not a bad advertisement at all for this rather anonymous distillery. Let's hope the next Craigellachie I try doesn't disappoint. And if anyone has recommendations for any other Craigellachie please let me know.
Rating: 85 points.