Craigellachie week got off to an unremarkable start with the 2017 release of the official 13 yo on Monday. Wednesday’s 13 yo, 2007 bottled by Cadenhead brought it roaring back in the other direction. To end the week now I have another official release, this time a 19 yo. This is not part of Craigellachie’s regular lineup; it was a single cask release for the US market a few years ago. I got this sample from Michael Kravitz (of the excellent Diving for Pearls blog). Michael bought it because it was distilled on his 21st birthday. I gather it was quite expensive. But that’s the single malt whisky market these days, especially for official distillery releases: 19 year olds are the new 25 year olds. The fact that this was a sherry butt probably also helped convince customers; I could be wrong but I think American whisky drinkers fetishize dark whiskies more than Europeans do. Anyway, let’s see what this is like.
Craigellachie 19, 1999 (55.2%; refill sherry butt129; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Rich biscuity sherry with toffee, light caramel and toasted oak. Some roasted nuts as it sits for a bit and a bit of dried orange peel. With more time, more savoury notes (beef stock—maybe stirred with a pencil as it reduced). A couple of drops of water and the oak recedes while the citrus brightens up and expands; some apricot comes up from below to join it.
Palate: Comes in with the toasted oak and the orange peel leading the way and a slight nutty bitterness (walnut peels) following. Just a bit too hot at full strength; decent weight. More of the oak on the second sip and not as much of the citrus. With more time the orange peel returns bringing some of that toffee from the nose with it. Okay, let’s see what water does. It pushes the oak back here as well and lets more of the citrus out. Better texture now
Finish: Medium-long. The oak is in the lead here and it’s more perfumed/polished than just toasted. With time the sweeter notes hang out longer but there’s also more of the oaky bite. The finish lengthens with water and mostly develops as on the palate though the oak remains palpable here.
Comments: I liked the nose a lot from the get-go but the palate and finish really needed the water to get me fully in their corner. A touch less oak and I’d like this a lot more. As it is, it’s a very good sherried whisky that isn’t an overbearing sherry bomb.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Michael for the sample! Here’s his review.