Thanks to /u/xile_ for bringing this bottle to a recent light drinking time with friends.
Cragganmore and I are a contradictory pair at the best of times. Thus the dram named Cragganmore SMWS 37.54 “A contradictory dram” is a perfect sum up for me drinking it.
My first Cragganmore, like most people’s, was their 12 year old. The standard offering from Cragganmore was bought as a mini, on sale, and bought so I could try it. Pure and simple. I think I saved $5 on it.
I was less than happy. It wasn’t bad, but was mostly lemon forward and not too strong.
Then, for some reason even I, master of my own domain, don’t know, I went back to Cragganmores throughout the years. Even recently I was ready to keep my Cragganmore 25 (until I was offered a nicer bottle for it). If I didn’t like the standard malt, why keep trying them?
I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because I’ve enjoyed others from them. Or rather, I’ve enjoyed them at Cask Strength more than at standard strength. Or maybe it was the sherry casks. Or maybe it was the influence of independent bottlers and the use of single casks.
It’s been one of those “whenever” things I do. And I guess, this year it’s Cragganmore SMWS 37.54 “A contradictory dram”.
This will be the oldest, so let’s see how I like this one, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Date Distlled: April 1985
Age: 27 years
Cask Type: Refill hoshead
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Bread, lemon cake, strawberry, mango lassie, caramel, mushrooms, peach
There’s an odd combination to this dram. So fruit and bread notes work together, with stone fruit notes and a creaminess of soaked in bread or the smell of rum cake being the main things that work.
And Bread and earth/mushroom notes work well. It’s that yeast/bread note that works with the unctuousness of the mushroom I like. But mushroom and fruit? What is this, sherry?
Joking aside, it adds a new dimension. It’s off putting but then works. I don’t want to mix it normally, but it worked this one time.
Taste: Black pepper, brown sugar, lemon, strawberry, truffle oil
Less complex than the nose. I find I’m trying really hard to search for anything different or any of the interesting cake/stone fruit/tropical fruit notes from before.
The earth is still here though, which, when mixed with the really nice and thick mouthfeel, gives you a sense of truffle oil. However beyond that the complexity has fallen right out from under you here.
Finish: Raspberry, rosemary, smoke, crackers, peach sorbet, caramel/butter
And we’re back. Kinda. Or different. I don’t know.
You know when you go out for Ice Cream and that one friend asks for gelato because they are a yuppie/hippie/hipster/allergic to milk and you go for it and they aren’t an Italian run one and instead have flavours where they mixed fruit and herbs? Like, let’s say, rosemary and raspberry? And you try it?
Yeah, that’s what this tastes like. It’s different, not bad, and kinda odd. Or like when you buy a herbed jam from a chi-chi store and then are confused each time you eat it on toast. Like that.
Nice buttery aspect too.
Conclusion: I can see where the name came from on this one. It’s fruit dominant while also having aspects of earth throughout. It’s certainly unique. Does it taste the age? No. The complexity is there on the nose and kinda there on the finish. It attempts and doesn’t quite meet the complexity I want.
That said, it still has some interesting flavours, nice combinations, and is generally fun to drink. I won’t score it too high, but will recommend you try this and other Cragganmores out there.
Scotch review #593, Speyside review #182, Whisky Network review #989