This Cragganmore, bottled by Berry Bros. and Rudd, is from a bourbon cask and is either 20 or 21 years old. I emptied the bottle a year and a half ago, but as is my custom with malts I find interesting for one reason or the other I’d put 6 ounces aside from when the bottle was near the halfway mark. In this case, actually, I saved it not because I found it to be such an interesting malt, but because Cragganmores are thin on the ground; and as I didn’t/don’t expect to have too many opportunities to buy Cragganmores in their 20s it seemed to make sense to save some for comparisons should I ever come across more. And, as it happens, I have. This is being sampled alongside another from 1989 (from a refill sherry cask) and that review will appear tomorrow.
Cragganmore 1989-2010 (53.5%; bourbon cask #2880; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)
Nose: A little spirity at first and then there’s a lot of tart apple, apple peel, vanilla and bright wood (not tannic). A little more lemon after a bit and some cream. After some time the apple turns to apple cider. After a lot more time the apple notes give way completely to lemon. With water there’s a sweeter, muskier fruitiness and more cream and malt. Some salt too now.
Palate: As on the nose, it starts out spirity but then there’s a bright fruity burst (lemon rather than apple) that turns malty and biscuity as it moves to the finish–it’s hard to describe it actually and I think the source may be the wood rather than the spirit itself. On the second and third sip the lemon gets fizzier and hangs around longer. Water mellows out the lemon and emphasizes the malt.
Finish: Long. Tingling wood and lemon and that malty roundness from the mid-palate. Gets earthier and saltier as it goes and water makes this more pronounced.
Comments: Neat it noses much younger than it is and I’d say the same for the palate; with water there’s greater depth on the nose. It’s pleasant enough and has no flaws but there’s not a terrible lot happening here.
Rating: 86 points.