Back at The Whisky Exchange Show in October, I was able to spend a bit of time tasting through the new range from Craigellachie.
This fairly unknown distillery has been located in the small town of the same name in Scotland’s Speyside region since 1891. It’s one you’ll be hearing a lot more about, however, as its owner – John Dewar & Sons – is making a major entry into the world of single malts, having previously used much of their malt stocks for blending purposes. You can read more about that move in this feature I wrote back in September, which details the new Last Great Malts series from them.
I’ve tried single cask releases from this distillery before and absolutely loved them – it’s one of those brands, like Linkwood, that I often forget about because I don’t see it on the shelf that much. But whenever I do get the chance to sample one or two I am reminded how enjoyable the whiskies are. It’s a big, sulphury, rich whisky (partly due to the use of worm tubs, which tend to lend to heavier new make spirit and the use of oil fired stills) and while that’s not always a style I love, for some reason, Craigellachie hits the right spots.
The new range consists of 13-, 17-, 19- and 23-year old variants that will be or already are available in the whisky market, and a 31-year old, which I’ve been told will be for travel retail (i.e.: the airport).
I managed to try four of the five at the show and here’s what I thought:
Craigellachie 13-year old: 46%: £42:
(n): Quite sweet: honey, cream and pineapple cubes. There’s something spicy and dry too, hinting at a richer whisky hidden below.
(p): Again, a honeyed note before lots of dark, earthy spice.
(f): Corn Pops.
Craigellachie 17-year old: 46%: £81:
(n): More red fruits and acidity came through for me on this one. Then some peach and lighter grassy notes.
(p): Slightly drier than the 13-year old variant, with cream and hay notes, alongside a green grassy caramel tinge.
(f): Sweet and spicy.
Craigellachie 23-year old: 46%: £330:
(n): This whisky really shows off to me how age can change a whisky – for the better, for me personally. The nose of this really rounds out, and becomes a bit more subtle with some rich, dark fruits like blackcurrants and blueberries. The darker, more sulphury notes ease down into this pillowy softness.
(p): Dark fruit again, loads of rich berries, treacle, chocolate and a green spiciness. Love it.
(f): *Not noted*
Craigellachie 31-year old (work in progress; no details yet on pricing):
(n): Honey and almonds, yellow fruits and then some milk chocolate.
(p): Really delicate but still with a great body. Dark chocolate, honeycomb, butter and graham wafers, then apple pie with caramel, before floral blackcurrant bushes.
(f): Dusty, oaky sweet finish.