The last sample of a sherried 20 yo from Malts of Scotland that I reviewed—this Mortlach—made me rue that I had not gotten around to tasting it while the bottle was still around. Will that be true of this Craigellachie as well? It’s odd to say that I hope so, but I don’t want to be rooting for a bad review either!
Craigellachie, like Mortlach, used to be pretty obscure until their owners decided to take them mainstream with a line of official releases. Because it is owned by Bacardi and not Diageo the prices for this line are not obscene. At least the 13 yo and and the 17 yo are reasonably priced—the 23 yo is pretty expensive (though still about half the price of the Mortlach 25 yo). Indie Craigellachie is a far more reasonable affair and single sherry casks more fully demonstrate the meaty character of the distillate (which it also has in common with Mortlach). Well, let’s see what this is like.
Craigellachie 20, 1995 (52.2%; Malts of Scotland; MoS sherry butt 16011; from a purchased sample)
Nose: A whiff of gunpowder to start, slightly sharp, along with quite a bit of salt. The salt expands dramatically on the second sniff—there’s a bit of dried orange peel below it and then a growing quasi-Springbank’ish leatheriness. As it sits there’s beef stock, dried mushrooms and some drying wood notes. With time those initial sharp’ish, sulphurous notes settle down and there’s more of the dried orange peel and some salted pistachios. With even more time there’s apricot and softer notes of toffee. Warer knocks the sulphur back further.
Palate: Some sweeter notes to start but it’s mostly the stuff from the nose, just in different proportions. Indeed, this is very Springbank’ish on the palate too. Gets meatier with every sip and there’s a whiff of smoke too now (wood not peat). Very drinkable at full strength and a rich mouthfeel. Saltier as it goes here too (and the sulphurous notes stick around longer). With more time there’s a bit of chocolate too. Even more Springbank’ish with water.
Finish: Medium. Nothing new here. Longer with water and sweeter.
Comments: This is solid sherried whisky. As I indicated above, it’s very Springbank—though you’d pay a lot more for a Springbank this age. Probably not for the utter sulphurphobe though.
Rating: 87 points.