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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

June 7, 2016


Cragganmore 12 and more

Cragganmore is a well-respected malt within Diageo’s large portfolio, even if malt aficionados seldom chat about it, probably because there are so few expressions around. What’s sure is that I know a few Diageo people who are listing Cragganmore as their #1 (after Malt Mill, ha-ha).

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/- 2015)

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/- 2015) Three stars It was about time we tried the rather popular 12 years old again. The latest batch we tasted was a… +/-2008! (WF 80). Colour: gold. I’ve seen darker batches in the past. Nose: it’s true that it’s very lovely, with this blend of yellow wild flowers, pollen, oranges, and light fudge. There’s something both firm and aerial to this, while it tends to become more fragrant after five minutes, towards litchis and wild roses. Noses almost like some very nice gewurz’. Mouth: a little bigger despite the low strength, with rather more burnt cake, roasted nuts, and plain malt. Pecan pie, chocolate cake, something a little vegetal (cassis buds?), plus a wee raw eau-de-vie-ish side in the background. Finish: medium, rather on coffee-schnapps and Ovaltine. Comments: I liked the nose rather better. An understatement. Same score as last time in my book. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Cragganmore 12 yo 2004/2016 (54.6%, The Whisky Agency and Acla Da Fans, bourbon hogshead, 180 bottles)

Cragganmore 12 yo 2004/2016 (54.6%, The Whisky Agency and Acla Da Fans, bourbon hogshead, 180 bottles) Three stars and a half High hopes! Colour: white wine, so this should be very natural. Nose: fruits everywhere! Very orchardy (plums, gooseberries, ripe pears, peaches) with some farmy touches in the back, as well as just a little varnish and jelly babies. Very youthful, and extremely ‘natural Speyside’. With water: at the farm. Barley, malt, hay, and drops of engine oil. Mouth (neat): plain fruit creams and liqueurs – and babies and beans and crocodiles and sticks. Same flavours, pears, white cherries, peaches… Now there’s also a very firm, rather grassy backbone. With water: good, rather more citrusy, while the bitterish grassy structure remains. Eating leaves, or rocket salad. Finish: rather long, with a touch of fresh mint on top of all these grasses and leaves. A wee rootiness, perhaps. Comments: rather raw despite the fruitiness. Really not a soft and mellow one. Very good nonetheless. SGP:561 - 83 points.

Cragganmore 16 yo 1997/2014 (58.1%, The Warehouse Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #1507, 295 bottles)

Cragganmore 16 yo 1997/2014 (58.1%, The Warehouse Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #1507, 295 bottles) Three stars and a half In theory, an older one should have gotten smooooother. Colour: straw. Nose: nah, raw varnish and pears on a lot of cut grass and various leaves. This is rather extreme, and very austere when un-reduced. With water: farmyardy. There’s also quite some chalk, which I enjoy. Hay, chalk, wheat, barley… And some rain water. Mouth: same style as the 2004, and this 1997 doesn’t quite feel any more mature or polished. Prickly leafiness and some bitter fruits. Peelings, leaves… With water: the fruits are coming out. Pears, apples, oranges, grapefruits… Finish: quite long, still a bit austere. Apple peelings. What’s very nice is that it’s got an aftertaste that resembles that of some top-notch sauvignon blanc. Comments: it needs water, and your time. One for lovers of bone-dry white wines. SGP:561 - 84 points.

What would be ideal would be to try a very old Crag’ now. Rare as a snowbird in hell, but is this Whiskyfun or what?...

Cragganmore 1969/1990 ‘Private Stock’ (43%, Ballindalloch Castle, 75cl)

Cragganmore 1969/1990 ‘Private Stock’ (43%, Ballindalloch Castle, 75cl) Five stars Some bottlers have been using the name ‘Ballindalloch’ for Glenfarclas, but actually, Cragganmore is closer to the castle if I’m not mistaken. What’s sure is that this IS Cragganmore. Colour: gold. Nose: and yet again, some 1960s distillate that makes most recent malts nose and taste like oak-flavoured vodka. Yeah I know, vastly exaggerating again, but the complexity in this is nowhere to be found in any contemporary malt whiskies. Oils, metal polish, old coins, moss, mushrooms, malt, orange liqueur, honeydew, pine needles, leather polish, fern, damp earth, bitter oranges, tobacco, teas… Mouth: amazing. Smoky, oily, very herbal, very earthy, quite sappy, gamey, resinous, chartreuse-y, peppery, gingery… The body’s just amazing given the strength. Finish: relentlessly long, phenolic, bitter, and even dominant. Comments: full-bodied complex malts at 43% could be bigger than ‘binary’ contemporary ones at 46 or even 50% vol., and this is just another luminous example. Who did break the mould, who? SGP:353 - 91 points.

(And thanks, Phil and Simon at Dornoch-Castle-Up-There!)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Cragganmore I've tasted so far







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