Let’s start the month with a week of reviews of whiskies from Craigellachie. Located in the Speyside, Craigellachie has not always had a high visibility among non-whisky geeks. It was established in the late 19th century and produced malt for blends for most of its life. Indeed, until relatively recently, there were no regular official bottlings from the distillery. The turning point was the purchase of the distillery in 1998 by John Dewar & Sons, themselves a subsidiary of Bacardi. In 2014 official Craigellachies appeared: a 13 yo, a 17 yo and a 23 yo. Idiosyncratic age statements to be sure, and perhaps meant as a reflection of the spirit’s idiosyncratic character. For whisky geeks, Craigellachie—available from independent bottlers before this—has always been of interest as one of the few distilleries still using old-fashioned worm tubs to condense their spirit. This results in spirit that can have a “meaty” texture and character. I’ve not had enough Craigellachie to be able to track all this meaningfully but I am interested to try this official 13 yo—which somehow I have not had at all since it was first released. This sample comes from a bottle from the 2017 release. Let’s see what it’s like.
Craigellachie 13, 2017 Release (46%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Malt, cereals, rubber gaskets and a yeasty/bready thing. Gets a bit sweeter as it sits and the malt gets a bit roasted. Lime here too with a squirt of water.
Palate: Not a whole lot happening here, to be honest: a little more acid, a little more oak. A good bite at 46% and oily texture. Some vegetal bitterness on the second sip and some wet wool. The lime pops out earlier with time. Okay, let’s see what water does. Well, the vegetal bitterness retreats and the wet wool comes to the fore but mostly it just washes it out.
Finish: Long. Continues in the austere vein of the palate, getting more bitter as it goes (and picking up some lime zest). The bitterness expands here with water and then eases unexpectedly into some sweeter fruit (apple) before fading out.
Comments: A fairly austere whisky. While I like austere whiskies in the abstract, this is not really my preferred profile. Those who are partial to bourbon cask Tobermory (like the Fabulous Florin—are you still out there?) will like this better.
Rating: 80 points
Hm. I think I understand why I haven’t heard about Craigellachie before now… Thanks for the review!