Cragganmore 29 2003 Special Release

I have this “thing” with Cragganmore. It’s called a bias, and if you’re reviewing you should always, always state your biases. Why? Because the reader doesn’t know you, jerk. They never will, unless they hold you by your toes over a volcano or steal your identity or bang you.

So what’s my thing? I prefer Cragganmore in sherry casks. That’s simple, right? Thus when I was originally offered a sample of Cragganmore 29 2003 Special Release, I had to wonder: Is it wasted on me?

Seriously now, what you have is a special release from Diageo with an age statement on it and a decent amount of age and a decent amount of abv. No one has written if there was or wasn’t sherry casks. I looked in a few places. Given the amount of bottles made, more than one cask was used. Heck, I feel pretty confident saying more than 4 casks were made.

So we have early 70s Cragganmore that may be in my wheelhouse or… in a dinghy behind my ship? Who is going to give up the chance to try another Cragganmore Diageo Special release? A lot of people. But am I one of them? Typically. But is today one of the days I’m doing that? Not this time.

Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: € 750

Region: Speyside

Vintage: 1973

Bottled: 2003

Number of bottles 6,000

Abv: 52.5%

Colour: 5Y 7/6

Nose: White peach, cumin, honeycomb, chives, gummy bears

Bit of sharp stone fruit at first, some earth, some waxy/honey notes (it’s a lot of wax as I’m wax blind), some grass, and some additional sweetness.

I guess if you had to pick out a dominant flavour like 80s films have to pick out a jock to be a villain, than it’s the sheer amount of sugar notes, however I didn’t feel like they were too high. Granted I’m also a North American and as such sugar consumption is the closest I’ll ever come to a super power.

Taste: Black pepper, peach, caramel, gumdrops, earth, cinnamon

More earth, some heat, and sugar showed up to tell you that they are still doing well and hope you don’t hold how they treated you in High School against them, which you do.

Ahem.. Interesting mixture of different flavours. It’s not simple in that way, but the individual flavours are. I like the combination though, since it’s reminding me of winter.

Finish: Grassy, mushroom, honey, cloves, brine, more cloves

Earthy, grassy, more sugar, and a lot of cloves, even with salt. I wish I ate more mushrooms so I could get more of the complexity of the earthiness. But… well, I don’t, because I’m terrible.

Conclusion: A profile that I’ve read of and hope I can keep trying: 1970s mix of earth, fruit, grass, and spice. While I’m not totally into the earth side of things (I don’t hate it, I’m just very unprepared to explain it as my wife doesn’t love mushrooms and I don’t eat them often), there’s an interesting range of flavours here.

The whole whisky approaches complexity with a wide range of subtle flavours. It is quite sweet though, which drags it down. I don’t know, I enjoyed it, but I feel it may be a tad more muted than I normally like. Or maybe it comes down to what I typically enjoy in Cragganmore: Sherry. Here it’s less of that strong sherry note. Nonetheless, if you get the chance, try it.


Scotch review #1525, Speyside review #430, Whisky Network review #2234

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