Craigellachie absolutely killed it with this branding. Man, look at that bottle! Gorgeous, old school packaging that instantly creates a preconception of the magical old school malts that folks like Serge at Whiskyfun gets to try seemingly at will. Unfortunately, while the wrapper is definitely of the old guard, the malt is unquestionably of the new. The former helped lure me into the purchase. The latter led to this review.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. Put simply, this is a minor league malt that isn’t quite being given the coaching it needs in order to play in the big leagues. Most of the distillery’s output ends up in Dewar’s blends. They put out about four million litres of spirit each year, but it’s only recently we’ve seen a real presence of the Craigellachie distillery releases. I’d argue there might be a reason for that, if this malt is any indication, but I’ll remain somewhat on the fence until I get an opportunity to sample the 17 and 23 year variants. Hopefully those have a little more balance and finesse.
I do appreciate the 46% abv though, and will keep an eye on this one in coming years to see if there’s any tweaks to the recipe.
Oh, and by the way…what the hell sort of testimonial is it when the brand itself offers up this little nugget on its website: “Full, belligerent, and sulphurous as a struck match.” WTF?!
Nose: Slight grape note. Nice barley notes. Milk chocolate covered raisins. Honey and lemon. Banana, ginger and pepper. Poached apple and cinnamon. Some dried fruit, leather and spice (maybe some sherry influence here?). A touch of tobacco too. Black currant scones.
Palate: A little more zippy here, with some tangy fruit notes and bigger oak than the nose belies. Apple skins and lemon juice. Burnt chilis or something, almost immediately after sipping. Juicy at first, then dries along the sides of the tongue as it develops. Sharp (almost bitter) vanilla notes. Pineapples in pudding…with pepper.
Thoughts: A punchy little malt that falls under the ‘fairly generic’ heading. Aside from being slightly…errr…off-kilter in balance, it’s not a bad beginner malt. Not one I’d reach for often, but that’s personal bias. I find most Speysiders in this age bracket to be fairly interchangeable and rarely to my taste. There’s something a little darker and more biting here than most though.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt