I’ve not had very many Cragganmores and have reviewed even less. This is largely because this is not a malt you see very often from the independents, especially not of late: Signatory released a handful each year through the 2000s but Whiskybase doesn’t list any from them for the last few years. This one was bottled by the well-regarded German outfit, Malts of Scotland, and is only the second of two Cragganmores they’ve put out so far. In fact, they’re so unused to putting out Cragganmores that they misspelled the distillery’s name on the label (Craggenmore). I guess this might make this a collector’s item for idiots some day.
I just realized that not only have I not reviewed the ubiquitous Cragganmore 12, I’ve not even tasted it in more than five years. And I can’t remember if I’ve even ever had the Distiller’s Edition. I should try to address that. Anyway, let’s see what this one is like.
Cragganmore 15, 1999 (53.5%; bourbon hogshead, MoS cask 14015; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Bright and a bit acidic with some pear juice and lime; some minerally, chalky notes as well and then quite a bit of soluble aspirin (Disprin), sour-sweet and just short of plasticky. As it sits it gets more fermented and musky (pears again, maybe some apple too) and there’s some lemon zest too. With more time it gets more malty. Water brings out more of the malty and musky notes.
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose, minus the chalky bit. Nice, thick mouthfeel and very drinkable at full strength. The citrus expands with every sip—but it’s thick, oily and bitter, rather than bright and juicy. With more time it does brighten up a bit and that chalky note from the nose does show up along with some grass, but it’s well-balanced; a bit sweeter too now. No change worth remarking with water.
Finish: Long. The citrus zest really expands, going from lemon to lime and picking up some white pepper along the way. With water those malty/musky notes from the nose develop late.
Comments: There’s not a whole lot going on here, especially on the palate, but this is a solid whisky of its type. And now that summer’s almost here in Minnesota I’m thinking that if I had a full bottle I’d be tempted to try some of this with a splash of tonic. Either way, this is a good summer sipper. If you have a bottle, and you’re in the northern hemisphere, it’s time to open it.
Rating: 83 points.