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. Continue reading →
The Cragganmore 12 was one of the first single malts that I drank and purchased a bottle of when I first started drinking single malt whiskies well over a decade ago. I liked it well enough then. But as my awareness of the category grew past easily available official bottlings to more and more obscure independent releases, I sort of lost track of it. The fact that the distillery is very rarely represented on independent bottlers’ lists probably didn’t help either. But this June, while in the Speyside, I made a brief visit to Cragganmore with my friend Daniel, and the few sips I had of the samples they gave us in the shop rekindled my interest. Especially as I realized that in the many years since I’d last tried it I’d more or less forgotten what the Cragganmore 12 was like: the malt I remembered was much more delicate than the one I tried (a similar thing happened for me with the Oban 14 not too long ago: another malt that I hadn’t tried since my early days in the hobby). I also rather liked the feel of the little distillery. Accordingly, on my return to Minnesota I purchased a bottle with a view towards renewing my acquaintance with the whisky more fully. Here are my notes from halfway down the bottle. Continue reading →
Cragganmore was the third distillery I visited on our Sunday in the Speyside in June. I’d not actually had any plans to visit it. The plan was Strathisla in the morning, followed by Glenfiddich, and then the afternoon at Ballindalloch Castle. After Glamis Castle on the way to the Speyside, however, we weren’t feeling like another castle tour and so decided to just hang out in their gardens—which include extensive play areas and activities for kids. When we got there, one of the gents at one of the activity tables asked my friend Daniel and me if we’d been to Glenfarclas yet (it had somehow come up that we were interested in whisky). No, we said. You should really go, he said, it’s just a few miles away. And so off the two of us went. And found that Glenfarclas is closed on Sundays. Rather than go right back we decided to drive a few miles the other way to Cragganmore, which we’d established was open on Sundays. We arrived just about 20 minutes before closing but got a warm welcome. Continue reading →
I’ve not had very many Cragganmores and have reviewed even less. This is largely because this is not a malt you see very often from the independents, especially not of late: Signatory released a handful each year through the 2000s but Whiskybase doesn’t list any from them for the last few years. This one was bottled by the well-regarded German outfit, Malts of Scotland, and is only the second of two Cragganmores they’ve put out so far. In fact, they’re so unused to putting out Cragganmores that they misspelled the distillery’s name on the label (Craggenmore). I guess this might make this a collector’s item for idiots some day.
I just realized that not only have I not reviewed the ubiquitous Cragganmore 12, I’ve not even tasted it in more than five years. And I can’t remember if I’ve even ever had the Distiller’s Edition. I should try to address that. Anyway, let’s see what this one is like. Continue reading →
This is the second of two reviews of 1989 Cragganmores. Unlike yesterday’s iteration this one is from a refill sherry cask. It was bottled for K&L in California for their Faultline label. This is the second Cragganmore they’ve bottled in that series, and I’ve had a sample of the previous one, a 20 yo, 1991 from a bourbon cask. That one didn’t impress me overmuch. As I paid for a full bottle of this one I’m hoping it puts on a better showing. I have a pretty good streak going with K&L’s selections and despite what I think of their marketing ways I’m not bloody-minded (or rich) enough to want to have paid for middling or poor whisky just so I can complain about them even more.
Cragganmore 23, 1989 (54.6%; single refill sherry cask; from my own bottle)
Nose: Orange peel and cloves. With more time there’s apricot jam and a leafy quality; some salt too. Very nice. With even more time notes of brandied raisins emerge and some toasted oak and roasted malt as well. Water mellows it out and emphasizes the raisins and the wood. Continue reading →
This Cragganmore, bottled by Berry Bros. and Rudd, is from a bourbon cask and is either 20 or 21 years old. I emptied the bottle a year and a half ago, but as is my custom with malts I find interesting for one reason or the other I’d put 6 ounces aside from when the bottle was near the halfway mark. In this case, actually, I saved it not because I found it to be such an interesting malt, but because Cragganmores are thin on the ground; and as I didn’t/don’t expect to have too many opportunities to buy Cragganmores in their 20s it seemed to make sense to save some for comparisons should I ever come across more. And, as it happens, I have. This is being sampled alongside another from 1989 (from a refill sherry cask) and that review will appear tomorrow.
Cragganmore 1989-2010 (53.5%; bourbon cask #2880; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle) Continue reading →