Thanks to /u/twiddleDD for the sample
Continuing my ongoing series that I’m calling “Scotch Malts, Wife’s Selection”, in which my wife goes through my backlog of SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) samples that I haven’t reviewed yet, pours them blind, and then I review it blind.
Cragganmore is one of those distilleries like that one cool friend you hung out with for two parties, and had a great time with them, and said you’d hang out more, and then didn’t. Probably because they go to a lot of concerts instead of parties. Or because they live downtown and you’re in the burbs. Or maybe they party on a Thursday and you do Fridays, like a normal, sane grown-up.
I think almost every whisky nerd tries Cragganmore 12 when they are starting out. And eventually you run into Craggranmore Distiller’s Edition of some year. And you think “Hmm, maybe we should hang out more”. And then… nothing. Eventually you’re not even Facebook friends, until you hear about a special release or something else that you can’t afford/find.
Thus when I had the chance to try Cragganmore SMWS 37.82 “Curious Complexity”, I was excited. I’ve been lucky enough to find the special releases, and know that I really, really enjoy it when it’s in ex-red wine barrels (including sherry casks). But what about ex-bourbon?
Perhaps I haven’t explored it enough. Thus a 13 year old, refill ex-bourbon single cask should help that. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Date Distilled: 1st Oct, 2002
Age: 13 years
Cask Type: Refill, ex-bourbon hogshead
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Golden syrup, straw/buckwheat, peach jam, caramel, grass
Initial nose is a lot of sugar. Eventually that becomes straw, then sweeter straw (buckwheat), and then eventually it goes to stay with the sugar but let some fruit in.
So quite sweet here. If you like grass, marry a lawn. Or enjoy this dram. Whichever’s up to you.
Taste: Brown sugar, grass, lemon candy, cloves, pear, butter
More of a molasses flavour on the taste, though it continues with the sugar forward gimmick. There’s a lot of spice, and eventually it tastes like a pear tart.
That takes time though, so give it that. Or water. Whichever’s up to you.
Finish: Grass, cumin/cricket flour/cinnamon, mint, anise, apple
Finish is that earth forward, spice filled grass thing. Gone is the sweet forward sugar mine (sugar comes from mines now, right?) and left is the grass, like a forgetful dealer who leaves his grass shavings at his grandma’s after doing her lawn.
The spice is nice, though it takes awhile for the apple to match it.
Conclusion: A young, not quite there dram. If there’s an argument for using red wine casks on Cragganmore, this is it. It’s all grass and sugar, and then grass and spice. Which the local aged politician tells me is killing the kids. Well, not the sugar. They paid him on time.
It benefits a lot from water. It’s nice to sip on, but there’s not enough here that I would have pulled it from the barrel. Personally I think it should have been given a second maturation in something to balance it all out.
Thus I thought it was an ex-bourbon Aberlour, as that’s usually their issue.
Guess: Is it Aberlour SMWS 54.40?
Actually: Cragganmore SMWS 37.82 “Curious Complexity”
Scotch review #790, Speyside review #223, Whisky Network review #1293