Cragganmore Distiller’s Edition

Cragganmore DE-5Cragganmore is a 2-still distillery currently owned by Diageo and sits next to the Craggan burn. The stills are small and, being only two of them, the production of the distillery is limited. That being said, it is known for being one of the most complex Speyside whiskies. One contributor to the unique taste is that the wash ferments for a long time in wash backs* made of European Larch, one of the few distilleries to still use wooden wash backs. Before launching the single malt offerings, most of the output was used in blends like James Watson Number 10, and is still used today in Old Parr and White Horse.

Distillery: Cragganmore
Region: Speyside
Age: NAS
Strength: 40%
Price: $69.99
Location: Ballindalloch 
Maturation: Port casks
Nose: Brown sugar, butter, vanilla, bubblegum, apple
Palate: Sugar, apple, port, peat, smoke
Finish: Spice, sugar, port, grain

Comments: If you’re going to have more than one whisky in a sitting, have this one first because it is light. Or don’t have this after anything that’s overly flavorful. Water tames the tongue tingle and brings a bit more sweetness, but is not essential. *wash back is a fermentation vessel that allows the yeast strains to convert the wort into a fermented liquid called wash.

Cragganmore DE-1Adam – This feels like one you have to build up on. The full flavor isn’t apparent at first sip, so you need a few before pushing past the thin Speyside tang into the flavors imparted by the extra finishing. The nose is my favorite part about this whisky, a lot more complex than I first anticipated. Having tasted the base spirit, I can say the time in port casks really helps add complexity, even if the end eventually tapers off into sweetness and grain. A welcome Speyside addition, but treat with kid gloves since for all the body in front, it remains surprisingly fragile and easily influenced.

Jenny – You get a little smoke and a little peat. It fills my mouth with warmth and flavor, and even though it’s a light flavor, my whole mouth was full. Up to the point where it crept up my nasal cavities. It’s kind of an interesting sensation. But it’s good, I enjoy it.  

Meghan – I don’t love the nose- alcoholic bubblegum pretty much turns me off. However, the palate does not follow the nose. Sometimes that irritates me but in this case it is a good thing. It is a bit of a bait and switcher between the nose and palate as the palate holds some peat and lovely light smoke. It might be a good one for those who aren’t complete peat fans to start getting more acclimated to it. 

Michael – With some whiskies, you get a nose and a palate that seem to reflect one another and relate. With this whisky, I find that the nose is more dessert like and the palate tends to be smokier. They don’t relate like some whiskies do. But enjoyable. 

John – It has a definite buttery mouth feel.

Henry – This is one of the more interesting and though-provoking drams that has crossed my palate recently. Or ever, for that matter. Whether it’s wine or whisky, a tasting experience that blends seemingly disparate elements is risky business, with the potential for the ride of a lifetime… or a hot mess. No messing around here. The nose teases – in the best way. Bright florals yield to a dash of sweet spice, with subdued undertones of peat smoke, becoming more defined the deeper you take it in. If we stopped there, it could usher in a nice Speyside. But it doesn’t, and there’s the surprising turn. On the palate, it opens up like a good Syrah. White pepper, fresh-pressed olive oil, just a hint of earth and turf. The peat doesn’t hit you, it coalesces like a figure out of a fog, subtly, unhurried, and in its own time. It arrives and lingers, and you don’t want to see it go.