Though the village of Craigellachie may be more famous as the home of The Macallan, as well as the confluence of the rivers Spey and Fiddich, it is also home to the Craigellachie Distillery. It has generally flown under the whisky radar due to the fact that its output has always gone into blends, specifically Dewar’s (the distillery is owned by Bacardi but managed directly by Dewar & Sons). Thankfully, a few single malt expressions have been put out as part of Dewar’s Last Great Malts series, which focuses on new expressions and malts never released before. Aside from being uncompromising in taste, the distillery is also known for the use of the unique worm tubs, a call back to an earlier time in whisky production.
Age: 13 years
Nose: Peach, vanilla, spice, butter, sugar, floral, milk chocolate
Palate: Spice, butter, brine, butterscotch, oats
Finish: Spice, floral
Comments: We keep forgetting this is at 46% abv so while you can add a few drops, we don’t feel it is required.
Adam – I’m reminded a little bit of the Yamazaki 12 a little, or maybe that’s my imagination, but this dram is like dinner in a glass, or a hearty breakfast. It is substantive and rich, like stew. The flavors are more muted in the front half of the palate but the back half really opens up. The butter association is strong, or rather the richness with an oily mouth feel – almost an oily nose – yet is saved from becoming overly slick by the developing spice, sweetness and some muted floral notes. This is definitely a scotch to let sit in your glass a while so you can watch the nose and palate develop as it oxidizes. Try sniffing your glass after you’ve finished and let the scent on the back end reward you as much as the nose on the front end, but in an entirely different way. Combine the complexity of flavors with a little zip from the spice and a very attractive price point, and I might have to start saying the Yamazaki 12 reminds me of this.
Jenny – I’m getting vanilla, baked goods, some sugar, a little bit of salt or brine.
Meghan – I normally shy away from Speyside whiskys since I tend to find them lacking in depth. This one, however, is a nice surprise. The nose has a sweet aspect of fruit and milk chocolate. There is also a slight smoked meat note that, surprisingly, does not negatively contrast with the fruit and chocolate. It also smells richly of butterscotch candy. How all those scents manage to mingle into a delightful nose I don’t know, but they do.
The whisky is actually heartier on the palate than the nose suggests. The sweetness of butterscotch remains but it is reinforced by oats and a slight savory note. It is a whisky that strangely works with both with savory and salty snacks, like meats and cheese, as well as sweets like chocolate. It seems like every time I come back to this one, I find another flavor or scent in it. There is a wonderful smoothness that contrasts the strength of flavor. There is not much in terms of finish, besides a lasting warmth. This scotch reminds me of a rich brocade fabric- both functional and luxurious at the same time. Thirteen years is not a usual number of years for an aged scotch but in this case, it is definitely not an unlucky number.
Michael – As I was trying to form my thoughts on it, I was noticing the butter, but it led me to thinking of it as a savory croissant, a bready tasty quality, some herbs and spices, maybe some toasted cheese on top. That was the sensation I was getting. It really reminded me of that. This one has a great mouth feel and the flavor lingers in a very lovely well.
Peter – There’s that sweet butter mention, then there’s that spice and a hit at the end. For me, the end opened up to some heat and a little bang at the end.
Mary-Fred – Warm, tad of spice, but lovely. There’s a round sweetness to the vanilla that to me inspires fruit. It interacts with food well.
Caitlin – I like this. It’s mellow. Mellow like your cool neighbor who lets you come over when they’re having a barbecue or meatloaf, like there’s always room for one more at the table, that kind of mellow. It’s welcoming and embracing. It’s not smacking me in the face like some other scotches we’ve had.
Ben – You know what? When I took my first sip, when it was in my mouth, it was unexciting. I thought it was unexciting and I was a little disappointed. I wanted to go back to something tastier. But, then I swallowed it and it was gone, and this whole exciting thing happened after. It swirled around, it was spicy, it had the taste I expected to be there while it was in my mouth. But more than that, I notice as I’m drinking this glass, if I take a normal sip and swallow, I only get a little taste on the tongue and at the end. But if I take a sip and swish it around in my mouth, I get different things like in my gums. So as I’m sipping, I swish it to a different place, like under my tongue, and each place it goes I get something else. So there’s a different story with each mouthful.
Henry – Lovely nose of orange blossom honey. So far so good. However, once on the palate, the real magic begins. I can’t believe it’s Speyside (maybe they should use that as a sales pitch). Complex is not an adequate word to describe this dram, and, being an organist, I would go so far as to argue that counterpoint is more like it. Independent strains of enticing florals, sweet and layered spice, and smoke – not the alluring briny breezes of Islay, rather the comforting elements of campfire… good company, good conversation, and smoked meat – all work together in harmony. They blend without losing their individuality, taking you on a journey through the elements without any unpleasant clashes – think strawberry anchovy ice cream, or worse, the unfortunately named Amrut “Fusion”.