Craigellachie week did not get off to the strongest start on Monday. The official 13 yo did not make me regret failing to try it in the near decade that it’s been out (though I suppose it may have improved a lot since the 2017 release, which is what I reviewed). Today I have a review of another 13 yo but this one is an indie release. It’s a single bourbon hogshead, and an ex-peated one at that. I do not know which distillery was the source of the peated cask; I don’t believe Bacardi—the owners of Craigellachie—have any other distilleries in their portfolio that traditionally produce peated malt (though one of the them may put out a peated variant). I suppose it’s also possible that the source of the cask may have been the bottler, Cadenhead—but that’s all speculation. If you have any ideas/knowledge on this score, please do share below. I can tell you it was distilled in 2007 and that the Cadenhead name is usually a good thing. Will it put Craigellachie week back on track? I can only hope so.
Craigellachie 13, 2007 (55.9%; Cadenhead; ex-peated bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: A sweet arrival with cereals, apple, a bit of lemon and some soot (nothing phenolic here). As it sits the lemon picks up some musky overtones and the cereals move in a porridgy, slightly bready/yeasty direction. With more time still the lemon transitions into charred pineapple. A couple of drops of water and the soot is pushed back; more of the charred pineapple now.
Palate: Comes in as indicated by the nose but with more smoke. Quite approachable at full strength with good texture. Sweeter on the second sip with wet stones and then some vanilla. Picks up some char as it sits and there’s a biscuity note too now. Okay, let’s add a bit of water. Ah yes, the smoke/soot, the fruit and the sweet notes merge very nicely now.
Finish: Long. The smoke lingers and is joined by some pepper. Some sweetness around the edges (vanilla). With time the lemon lingers into the finish. Sweeter here too with water.
Comments: This is like a funhouse mirror version of the official 13 yo, or more accurately, the official 13 yo is like a funhouse mirror version of this. That is to say, the general profile is similar but everything goes right here in a way it doesn’t there. As for the prior peated denizen of the cask, it does not dominate. And the smoke is not phenolic at all. Could it have been an Ardmore cask? Well, whatever it was it takes this Craigellachie in a Longrow/Kilkerran direction and that can only be a good thing. I liked it neat and with water.
Rating: 88 points.