I have a handful of bottle images that pop up when I think of Cragganmore. And perhaps that’s because I really only think of the standard Cragganmore and the Distiller’s Edition. So it was definitely time I drank more Cragganmore.
That all said, getting a new Cragganmore means either waiting for an independent bottler to get one away from Diageo or for Diageo to release a special edition.
But which should I be saving my many dimes for? Today we have two Cragganmores to help determine which I should have purchased (I’ll explain which I actually bought later).
So it’s time to try more Cragganmores. Cragganmore of them, if you will.
Let’s get to the booze, that was pretty sad as far as jokes go. And I’ve been talking about how your children are going to go through terrible 2012 level catastrophes, so that’s bad.
Thanks to smoked_herring for this mystery
Cragganmore 12 Peated 2019 Special Release was released in 2019 as a Special Release and seems to be peated.
Now that I’ve passed my literacy test, the rest is pretty simple: Peated Cragganmore exists, and a bunch of refill American oak casks held it for 12 years and then was released. You probably had one. I had no time to have a daily drinker for the last… 5 years and as such didn’t end up trying it.
That was until it was handed to me as a blind dram. I got it wrong.
Speaking of wrong, why are we only hearing about peated Cragganmore now? Sure, we’ve had it in the form of Johnnie Walker, Old Parr, and White Horse… why not try releasing a bit more?
Which is confusing to say: Cragganmore is lightly peated. So this is the heavier peated versions.
Oh well, we have it now. Let’s see how I felt about it, shall we?
Price: € 97.00
Cask type: Refill American Oak
Number of bottles 18,000
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Watermelon, smoke, water chestnut, salt water taffy, cinnamon
Interesting water chesnut note. Haven’t had one of those since they were wrapped in cheap bacon and handed out as appetizers. Good amount of salt and smoke and heat going on here.
At this point I’m taking the simpler notes to be younger, and the amount of peat versus random notes to be Bowmore, because I am full of disrespect like that (also I actually like the nose and it feels like a proper cask strength Bowmore, like it’s meant to be drunk).
Taste: Anise, molasses, chocolate plum, cookie dough
Spice, some rich notes, lots of sweet, and some random acidity right in the middle of it all. It’s different, and that’s nice, but it’s also jamming plum in there, and based on my years in prison that’s not appreciated randomly.
Granted the plum adds acidity (here, not in prison) and some needed balance from some of the sweet.
Finish: Peppermint, brine, farmy, cinnamon, grassy/anise
Farmy, good brine, nice spice and grassy notes. Wow, wait, grassy? Usually don’t get that in peated malts other than Ardbeg. And no way was I handed an Ardbeg, right?
Conclusion: Spice, farmy, good dram. I can see why so many friends drank through this (pandemic notwithstanding) and why they enjoyed it so much. It’s not perfect, but it’s a different, better take on peated whisky.
Is that because: A) You have tons of barrels to choose from; B) It’s cask strength; C) It’s the first time a single malt of the heavier peated Cragganmore has been released and given the money from peated whiskies they need to stick the landing; or D) I’m a peat head?
Probably all of the above. It’s worth picking up. I honestly thought this was a solid young Bowmore based on the profile. Yet it has a bit more to it than a simple cask strength Bowmore. As such I’d recommend grabbing some while you can and before they have less to choose from.
Guess: Bowmore, ex-bourbon, maybe 8 years old, 50%
Actually: Cragganmore 12 Peated 2019 Special Release
I bought half a bottle of Cragganmore 27 1989 Archives because some guy in town was selling some whiskies and I saw an Archives listed. I also saw it said “Cragganmore” and said “Hey, I like the sherry ones, and they don’t pop up because of the smaller distillery”. After I said all of that to myself and further scared people around me (maybe I was screaming and it was the bus) more than normal, I obtained it and split it with a friend.
He then explained that this will be the third of the bottles he’s had and I laughed, glad I ended up with half a bottle.
So what is this bottle that keeps seemingly disappearing into the air around my buddy? It’s a 27-year-old cask strength Cragganmore that was aged in ex-Sherry. So of course I bought it.
Let’s see if my friend somehow has different tastes than me (in a different person? the horror) and if I jumped at something quickly in a good way. For once. Shall we? I lost the rhythm there.
Price: € 195.00
Vintage: May 1989
Bottled: November 2016
Cask type: Sherry Hogshead
Cask Number 1465
Number of bottles: 70
Colour: 2.5Y 7/8
Nose: Raspberry pie, nectarine, white people fruit tea, dead grass Immediately tart, buttery, fruity (like very sweet but also naturally sweet too), and some vegetal/grassiness that blows out the back of your head. Immediately it’s Autumn, I’m having white people fruit tea (as is my culture), and the grass is dead and therefore I am happy because fuck grass (the lawn type, not the awesome type).
Insane complexity. Strong, tasty, tannic… damn, I dun goood.
Taste: Anise candy, papaya, leather, caramel crisp, cinnamon, lemon square
Spice and sweet, tropical, and leather. Just stop there: Leather is a flavour I love. Just adore. I’m already sold before it sells me on a complex caramel note or spice or even a well developed citrus/graham note.
Finish: Honey lemon tea, sourdough donut, white chocolate, toast and strawberry jam, Charmat method sparkling wine
Balance, yeast, tannic, sharp sweetness, and bready and jammy. Somehow this finishes with a fancy breakfast, and this is much better than some of them I went to. For instance at one I saw a drunk guy put a car in neutral and roll it into a ditch.
Much better experience. Granted that guy bullied me but still, this is much better, if less justice.
How do I explain this? Think of the things you like to eat, and imagine them fresh, or better, or prepared better, or of a better quality. That’s this.
Conclusion: This is unique, complex, beyond any other Cragganmore I’ve had, and so drinkable. It’s a must try. Flat out. There’s nothing minor here. If I wasn’t such a peat head I’d love it more.
I joke of course. This is the closest I’ve had to some of the best whiskies I’ve ever had. Full stop. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to have tried it. And of course, now I need Cragganmo-
No, none of that, that’s too silly. The whole thing is tannic, fruity, yeasty, and spicey. Butter is life, and this has that too. Amazing whisky.
Scotch review #1392-3, Speyside review #389-90, Whisky Network review #2068-9