ABV: 56% Cask Type: First fill French oak casks Distillery: Cragganmore Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society Region: Speyside
Cragganmore distillery was founded in 1869 by John Smith in the village of Ballindalloch in Banffshire. The whisky is lightly peated and is produced from a unique array of four stills. The two wash stills are particularly large and possess very steeply angled lyne arms – the two spirit stills are rather small with long, gently angled lyne arms – all four arms descend into wormtubs. It is the configuration of the spirit stills and their arms, which greatly contribute to the overall complexity of the Cragganmore spirit.
Today we’re looking at a Cragganmore from the SMWS and their September 2017 outturn. It’s a 15 year old that has been matured in a first fill French oak hogshead and bottled at 56% ABV. 266 bottles were released as part of the monthly outturn
Nose: Ker-pow this does indeed seem quite boozy. Fruity goodness to begin with - cherries, strawberries and raspberries. This is followed by a fair whack of cask influence in the form of vanilla and light wood smoke. There’s some big spicing here already – pepper and cinnamon. A very mild hint of earthiness in the background. A big, punchy and fruity start to proceedings.
Taste: Still punching hard with power and spice. Good translation from nose to mouth – we’re in pretty much the same territory here. Cherries, strawberries and raspberries again, likewise with the woody notes of pepper, cinnamon and now a lick of salt. Water reduces the fruity quality a touch, but brings out toffee and more spice in the form of ginger.
Finish: Medium in length with a fair astringency and again – lashings of spice.
There’s a fair amount to like about this Cragganmore. It’s got plenty of character and packs a real punch. However, ‘boozy trifle’ is a most apt name – there’s quite a biting alcohol hit here. Whilst adding water takes some of the edge of this, it also alas reduces the overall intensity of fruit.
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