This is a nifty, nifty dram. Not one you’re liable to find kicking around anymore, to be honest, but there IS still value in reviewing something like this. It shows you what the distillery has in its arsenal, if only allowed to unleash the big guns with a bit more frequency.
This cask strength edition is not necessarily a very different whisky from the standard Cragganmore, but it is certainly an amplified version of a familiar tune. Think of it like high definition IMAX versus an old rabbit-eared black and white TV. All of those little nuances that so often get drowned out in the white noise of standard bottling strength, chill-filtration and dollops of artificial coloring become the subtleties of an intricate weaving. It would be a great attestation to distilleries’ confidence in their whisky if all were to release cask strength examples of their distillate.
Cragganmore is one of the lesser known distilleries in the Diageo portfolio, contributing just over 1.5 million litres of spirit annually, in a fairly innocuous Speyside style. Standard expressions are few and far between, so speaking to the general profile on the distillery is not something I’m willing to tackle here. I will, however, try to post a review of the more redily available Cragganmore 12 year old at some in the coming days so there is at least a frame of reference for those out there who may be curious. Expect a sweet, fruity and slightly floral dram. In short…nothing really unique.
While I should admit to having a bit of a personal affinity for Cragganmore (simply due to the power of memories seen through rose-colored glasses), I have neither found one I loved nor hated yet. This special edition is likely as close as I’ve come to embracing the dram.
Nose: Caramel, toffee and pepper. Apple and melon. Cake mix. Dusty ol’ sherry butts. Is that smoke? Unexpected. Yep…smoky toffee. Maybe sticky toffee pudding. Butter tarts. Crème brûlée and custard. A little red berry. Rather tough nose to dissect.
Palate: Creamy and sweet. Dried fruits, tart jam and some smoky notes. A fair bit of sherry influence. Quite dry. Figgy. Dark vanilla threads. Some spice. There’s an almost varnish-like note here. No worries, though…goes well with the oak. 😉 Kinda like over-steeped tea at the back end. Brings a little bitterness.
Nothing really special in terms of overt inherent quality, this malt is still quite nifty to try, simply in terms of exposure to something new. An extra point as well just for presentation close to the unadulterated manner we prefer. I got more enjoyment out of this than the score would suggest. Just saying.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt