There isn’t a lot of indie Cragganmore about—especially in the US. I’ve reviewed a grand total of 3 Cragganmores before this one. And so when I had a chance to get in on a bottle split of this Cragganmore from the SMWS I took it even though it’s a madeira finish and even though the SMWS gave it the name “Coconut Curry Down the Douro Valley”. My general antipathy to wine finishes is no secret and I don’t think I’ve yet found anything resembling any kind of curry in any whisky said to be reminiscent of it. Let’s see if this one surprises me on either front.
Cragganmore 16, 2001 (56.4%; SMWS 37.127; madeira finish; from a bottle split)
Nose: Sweet, spicy toasted wood to start—rosewood? cherry wood? On the second sniff there’s some cherry (the fruit), some orange peel, a bit of cinnamon. Gets more floral as it sits (yes, roses). Gets more savoury as it sits and I hate to admit it but I am indeed getting aromas of coconut milk infused with herbs. The savoury notes recede with time and it’s the sweet red fruit that’s ascendant. Water pushes the cherry back, pulls out some cream and makes the whole mellower.
Palate: Starts out sweet with the perfumed oak and the fruit (cherry) intensifies as I swallow. Just a bit of wine separation heading into the finish. The texture is nice but it’s just a touch too hot. Let’s see what air and time do for it and then I”ll add water. Gets sweeter as it goes and the wine continues to separate. The savoury notes from the nose don’t show up here at all. Water pulls out some lemon and seems to integrate it better.
Finish: Long. The wine separates and comes back together but the sweetness gets a bit too cloying. Less sweet with water but the wine separates again at the end.
Comments: An intriguing nose but this is just too sweet and winesky’ish on the palate and finish. Water improved it but not enough.
Rating: 84 points.