Of course I had already forgotten about it, but I did get a sample of last year’s Cragganmore Special Release by Diageo. It’s not even that the announcement of the special releases for this autumn reminded me of it, I just happened to stumble upon the remainder of the sample.
So, last Sunday I decided it was time to both finish the sample and write some tasting notes.
I’m generally not a huge fan of Cragganmore. Not that I dislike it, but I’ve never really cared about the brand. The regular 12 year old is a middle-of-the-road whisky that is bottled at 40%, and could probably be a whole lot better when bottled at 46%. Although, geeks like me probably isn’t the demography they’re marketing to.
Anyway, a 20 year old came out last year. The year before it there was a peated special edition, which I didn’t like. Somehow I had hope for this one.
It starts with some very gentle notes of honey, with sweet barley and oak. After that I get heather and dried apple, with a bit of a papery undertone.
The palate is, somehow, a little bit ashy, with oak. There’s reed, barley, straw and heather. Very straight forward, but it somehow seems to get to the core of whisky.
A full finish with lots of barley driven flavors. Again, there’s reed and apple, oak and straw. But all of a sudden I also get strawberries.
I didn’t check anything about the whisky before tasting it and was surprised by the ashy note I got on the palate. Knowing now that it’s drawn from new fresh-charred casks it’s not as surprising of course.
I actually love this whisky. I like that with all the barley driven flavors and the new charring it seems to get to the core of whisky. Barley and oak. It’s mellowed nicely over time and I didn’t really feel the burn of almost 56% ABV. Very good stuff!