Archive for the ‘Cragganmore’ Category

Mackillops Choice Cragganmore 1990 (24 year old?) 56.4%

Bourbon Cask 1418/ Tasted: May 2014

Quite a dark and malty nose with treacle, macerated baked fruit and barley. With time it becomes slightly herbal with hints of camphor and thyme.

Plenty of soft, brown sugar coated baked fruit to begin with on the palate. Very deep with malt, earth, treacle, hints of walnut, liquorice and a developing herbal character. The alcohol balances and freshens, but the treacle-malt combination lingers impressively. A touch of slightly drying dark spice emerges on the finish.


Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask Craggamore 1997 (16 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Code: OMC2306/ Dist: Mar 1997 Btl: Aug 2013/ Tasted: Sept 2013

The aromas are initially quite fresh and herbal with sweet honey, barley and rich spicy fruit. However the aromas begin to darken as some malt, coffee and treacle begins to come through along with a touch of earth/ manure. A very pleasant nose. 

The palate opens with the sweet barley and grass along with hints of vanilla cream. Just like the nose it darkens with plenty of malt and treacle on the middle. The woody but sweet spices really kick in on the finish along with a touch of dried fruit, joining the lingering malt and treacle. This has loads of character, unlike the distillery bottling!

Berry Bros Cragganmore 1997 (13 year old) 58.3%

Bourbon Cask 1515/ Dist: 1997 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: July 2011

An earthy and slightly pungent nose with no shortage of barley and some surprisingly youthful cereal and pepper along with a touch of burnt caramel. With water it becomes a bit simple but allows some crisp/ granity lemon to emerge.  

Pretty much all oak (burnt caramel) on the palate and drying alcohol. Water makes it quite confected and simple – still the burnt caramel is evident. Youthful and hot with more than a passing resemblance to peppery Tequila.  

Conclusion: Water makes it pretty innocuous and unexciting!

Signatory Cragganmore 1997 (10 year old) 43%

Bourbon Casks 1104 + 05/ Dist: Mar 1997 Btl: Apr 2007/ Tasted: Sept 2007

A very winey (white) nose. I presume it has been finished in Chenin or Viognier casks (tasted blind). It is pleasant but there is very little distillery character. A touch floral with vanilla notes, but overpowered by the finishing cask.

The palate is soft and quiet sweet with winey apricot and citrus fruit. Fairly straightforward, winey (surprise!) and a bit sharp with some woody tannin notes and a touch of late leafy spice. Simple, straightforward and pleasant. Dominated by the finishing cask.

Murray McDavid Mission Series Cragganmore 1985 (21 year old) 55.6%

Bourbon – Tempranillo/ Dist: 1985 Btl: 2006/ Tasted: May 2007

What is it with red wine finished whiskies? Maybe it’s me; maybe I just don’t get on with them. However in saying that the nose of this is superb and I thought ‘finally a red wine finished whisky I like’ and to give it its dues it has the finest red wine finished nose I have ever tried, but, and there’s always a big but isn’t there!……….

The nose opens with a slight floral note, followed by spicy redcurrant/ cherry fruit, sweet natural honey and luxurious buttery bourbon oak lying just beneath the spicy top note. It displays a magnificent multi-dimensional depth. I really could sniff this all day.

Then it goes horribly pear shaped.

On the palate it has a mouthwatering intensity, but it is so one-dimensional it is untrue and short. How could such a gloriously complex nose lead to such a disappointing palate, even a drop of water doesn’t help the proceedings. This really is a shame and goes to show that first sniffs can be deceiving.

Murray McDavid Cragganmore 1990 (12 year old) 46%

Bourbon Cask MM1413/ Dst: 1990 Btl: 2002/ Tasted: Mar 2004

A pure, grassy, white fruit nose. Slightly salty with hints of pine needles, honeyed oatmeal, cream and spices. Slightly waxy on the palate with a complexity of white fruit with hints of sea air. Sort of a Speyside-on-sea! It develops a pleasant honeyed sweetness along with hints of oiled leather and exotic spice and a thread of smoke.

Murray McDavid Cragganmore 1993 (15 year old) 46%

Bourbon – Syrah/ Dist: 1993 Btl: 2008/ Tasted: Sept 2008

I thought the previous bottling of this as a 12 year old was quiet charming so I was interested to taste this new bottling and see what a few more years had done to it. Strangely enough the nose was initially a bit on the raw side but the sweet syrah fruit quickly kicks in followed by the creamy bourbon oak. And then………. Good grief!……..what’s this……….. peat!? I definitely wasn’t expecting that. When did Cragganmore start playing around with peat? (I’m sure someone will tell me!) And the peat aromas are not what you would call subtle either.

Like the previous bottling the finishing cask is nicely integrated on the palate. There’s not much distillery character (but then does it really have?) and whoosh there’s the peat again backed up by a tremendous salinity! Well it has been maturing on Islay. Lovely finish with the citrus distillery character finally putting in an appearance. Well what a curio, who would have thought it a peated Cragganmore? Worth buying for the novelty value if nothing else. And for the record I do like it!

Murray McDavid Cragganmore 1993 (12 year old) 46%

Bourbon – Cote Rotie (Syrah)/ Dist:1993 Btl: 2005/ Tasted: Dec 2006

A crisp and floral nose. The spicy fruit sits like a blanket above the spirit aromas. Very perfumed with hints of fresh rose petals before the crisp barley and crème brulee oak coming through with time. The effects of the finishing cask are quite light however.

Soft and fruity on the palate with the crisp bourbon fruit emerging first. There is a lovely brittle barley middle with hints of delicately creamy fruit. Again the finishing cask is rather light and gives the finish a dry, grapey feel. A good balance between the spirit and the finishing cask. Quite charming

Duncan Taylor NC2 Cragganmore 12 year old 46%

Bourbon/ Tasted: Apr 2010

A very light and grassy nose, with a distinct Sauvignon blanc-eque style. A touch high toned with perfumed orange fruit along with some youthful rose petal marc and a hint of celery(?). A pleasant sweetness which in time turns a into a slight sugarwater character.

The palate is quiet sweet-ish with rose water, grass and citrus. A bit of a lightweight with the alcohol being quiet intrusive, and lots of salt on the middle which dries out the finish and shortens. Leaves behind a sweet residue on the sides of the tongue and a slight cardboard after taste.

With water the nose turns into pure sugar water and tones down all the other aromas. It does the same to the palate and emphasises its lack of real depth. Unfortunately a bit par for the course from this distillery in my experience.

Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Cragganmore 1991 (19 year old) 53.9%

Bourbon/ Dist: 1991 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: July 2011

Very mentholated and leafy nose. Quite broad and noticeably alcoholic. Some floral spirit is evident along with hints of oak and pepper, but it’s all buried by the alcohol. Water makes the nose oilier and muted, old straw dominates and there is possibly a suggestion of fruit.  

The palate is Alcoholic! Maybe some mature dried fruit but that’s about it. Dilution makes it watery and rather dull. Neat the finish is alcoholic and peppery, with water confected.  

Conclusion: A pleasant nose but one dimensional palate. Pretty dull with the addition of water.

Douglas McGibbon Provenance Cragganmore 2000 (11 year old) 46%

Bourbon/ Code: PRV0713/ Dist: Jun 2000 Btl: July 2011/ Tasted: July 2011

The nose is a touch spirity with some high toned marc-like notes. The oak grips quite hard and mutes the nose but there are some pleasant honeyed barley/ cereal moments.

The palate is soft and quite sweet, opening with an intrusive burnt caramel note which carries on in a very pervasive manor. Quite malty with hints of raisins. Reasonable length with a touch of honey but there’s no escaping the burnt caramel!

Dewar Rattray Cragganmore 1993 (14 year old) 59.8%

Bourbon Cask 1910/ Dist: Apr 1993 Btl: Sept 2007/ Tasted: Oct 2007

Lovely clean aromas of citrus fruit, toffee, malt and lazy spices. A wonderful depth with a delightful honied note. Slightly oily on the palate. Quiet gristy and malty, with intense citrus fruit and subtle spices. This is a really chewy mouthful although the alcohol dominates the finish.

Water emphasizes the oak on the nose and slightly subdues the citrus fruit but it opens out the palate a treat. Soft, pleasant and mouth filling. The fruit now has a lovely juicy sheen to it and the finish is delightfully long with the soft spices lingering. Another private bottling which beats the distillery bottling hands down in my opinion.

Dewar Rattray Cragganmore 1997 (12 year old) 46% – Sample at 58.4%

Bourbon Cask 1491/ Dist: 1997 Btl: 2009/ Tasted: Feb 2010

Whoa this is a big honey monster! Big, buttery oak is balanced by crisp citrus fruit and grassy notes. Overtime it adds a tropical flourish. Absolutely gorgeous!

The palate is a tad more subtle than the nose would imply, yet it is still bold and full flavoured. It’s quite grassy and citrusy, and the alcohol subdues the rampant honey. It opens into a lovely malty middle and finishes with a soupcon of tropical fruit.

With a drop of water (approximately what it will be like at 46%)

The nose has become quite winey. Very grassy and Sauvignon Blan-esque. Lovely freshness. The honey now lurks in the background as does the oak. The palate is pretty much like the nose. The fruit has taken on a wonderful sugar topped, crystalline character. Soft and gentle now with the oak adding some delightful spices on the finish.

Cragganmore 1997 (15 year old) 46%

Bourbon Cask 1494 – sample at 60.1%/ Dist: 1997 Btl: 2012/ Tasted: July 2012

The nose is quite gristy, high toned and alcoholic with a very herbal character, which surprisingly displays a sort of medicinal/ bog myrtle-peat note. In fact it’s quite coastal with hints of white liquorice and lanolin. At first I thought I was nosing Coal Ila or maybe Laphroaig and that the samples had been mixed up! 

The palate is quite dry (given the high abv) and milky. Again quite herbal with some lovely soft fruit. The oak really comes through on the middle with a serious milky/ creaminess along with some lovely spice. The finish is quite mouth-watering and the alcohol masks it to a certain extent. 

With water (approximately what it will be like at 46%) An unbelievable transformation! That medicinal almost peaty note has completely disappeared and it now shows some lovely, juicy tangerine and apricot fruit. Gently creamy with a touch of spice and sweet vanillins. The palate is softer now, gently creamy with some soft, stewed apple and citrus. Gently spicy with hints of chocolate. Wonderfully soft and long with a slight oliness and a touch of tannin right at the death.

Blackadder Raw Cask Cragganmore 1989 (15 year old) 57.9%

Bourbon Cask 1970/ Dist: Sept 1989 Btl: Dec 2004/ Tasted: July 2005

A clean, extremely saline nose, it hits the senses as straight as anarrow with fresh citrus, vanilla oak along with a touch of earth, herbs and slight toffee. Very dry and intense on the palate, lovely soft, oily exotic fruit, malt and coal smoke, water makes the fruit even juicier and really brings out its saline character. Very long finish with coffee notes.

Bladnoch Forum Cragganmore 1993 (12 year old) 40%

Bourbon Hogshead 1959/ Dist: 1993  Btl: Jan 2006/ Tasted: Aug 2006

Clean, grassy and citrus with lovely clean vanilla oak, cereal, hay, orange fruit and a touch of strawberry.

Stunning palate, slightly sweet with cereal, apricot, banana and delicate, sweet spices. Slightly oily with a tropical fruit middle along with the gloriously clean vanilla oak. Very long with the sweetness building on the palate. Glorious length and finish.

Bladnoch Forum Cragganmore 1993 (12 year old) 62%

Bourbon Hogshead 1959/ Dist Apr 1993 Btl: Jan 2006/ Tasted: Jan 2006

Stunning, absolutely storming. Breakfast cereal with crushed bananas sprinkled with delicate sweet spice, a touch of orange fruit and lashings of the cleanest oak this side of the Mission Series – Jim McEwan would have loved to get his hands on this. Awesomely deep, it blows the distillery bottling out of the water and I haven’t tasted it yet!

Wow, lovely soft entry with oily malt and serious banana, tropical fruit and dusty spices. Wow, it gets better. Very intense and tangy middle leaves the tongue tingling, great length with a touch of botanicals and clean oak. A drop of water brings out the citrus orange and tangerine, but on the palate is where it really does it for me. Softens and sweetens, this is stunning stuff, dripping with honey glazed cereals and fruits, the oak is glorious too, soft, creamy and to die for. Hats off to Raymond, this is stunning, and ifJim Murraydoesn’t give it a 95+ I’ll eat my hat!

Bladnoch Forum Cragganmore 1993 (14 year old) 60.6%

Bourbon Hogshead 1958/ Dist: Apr 1993 Btl: June 2007/ Tasted: Dec 2007

An amazing almost Lowland-esque nose. Very grassy and crisp with hints of earth, rich honey, mint, citrus fruit and a slight vanilla note. Effervescent and delightful.

Rich and fruity on the palate with again the citrus, mint, grass flavours reminding me of a Lowland. The alcohol somewhat dominates as does the dry tannin notes.

Once a drop of water is added it really opens it up. Emphasising the vanilla oak on the nose and really bringing the palate to life, enhancing it’s natural sweetness, highlighting the mouth filling barley, cereal, spices and a wonderful bitter dark chocolate finale, just like pure, unrefined cocoa beans. It’s truly amazing!

Bladnoch Forum Cragganmore 1993 (16 year old) 56.4%

Bourbon Hogshead 1960/ Dist: Apr 1993 Btl: Aug 2009/ Tasted: Sept 2009

A huge earthy vanilla oaked nose. Almost grainy in character with scrumptious crème brulee. Underneath the oak lies some potential fruit I think, but neat it’s all oak. The palate is soft, lightly honeyed and heavily oaked, with a slight herbal intimation.

A drop of water fails to coax the fruit out into the open and the oak still holds it in a vice like grip. In saying that some floral, orange blossom notes do emerge. The palate is now quiet oily with some deliciously sweet tangerine and light spices. Pleasant, if a bit homogenised. There is nothing wrong with this cask, it reminds me of the distillery bottling – pleasant yet unexciting.

Bladnoch Forum Cragganmore 1991 (19 year old) 53.8%

Bourbon Hogshead 1176/ Dist: 1991 Btl: 2010/ Tasted:  Oct 2010

A superb nose of complex honeyaromas – natural clearhoney and macula. Balanced by a slight grassiness and gentle spices. Fresh andaromatic with a lovely poise. With time there is a touch of cereal and banana. The vanilla oak along with some maltiness sits beneath.

Soft and gentle on the palate. Quite grassy to begin with then the complexity of honey unfolds itself before being cut short by the piquant alcohol.

With water, the nose becomes extremely fresh with a veritable fruit basket of zingy citrus before moving into a slightly fleshy tropical fruit direction. There is still plenty of honey although that has taken a bit of a back seat. As expected the palate has opened up beautifully. The honey is cut through with a vein of citrus and the gentle spices come to life. Possibly not as complex as the nose, but still very enjoyable.