Review: Cragganmore, SMWS 37.65


Cragganmore – SMWS 37.65 ‘Bursting with interest and imaginings’ 29yo

(Distilled 19/12/85, refill bourbon hogshead, 192 bottles, 46.5%)

I find I don’t have much to say about Cragganmore. It’s usually pretty good, although one of those whiskies that I’d struggle to pick out of a Speyside line-up.

Nose: Quintessentially old Speyside, and enormously attractive. There’s a fair bit of wood here, but it’s really old exotic hardwood, polished by years of use. Beyond that there’s a good deal of complexity: deep bergamot/kumquat citrus, honey biscuits, butterscotch, dried flowers, some tropical fruit … and breath in deeply to find┬ásome anise.
Taste: Wow, it’s lovely and just huge. Lots of deep, ripe fruitiness – starting with that orange and tropical fruit from the nose. There’s a bit of interesting buttermilk-type creaminess, so that you’re reminded of a mango lassi, with that balance of fruit and sourness. Toffee and wine gums, more conventionally.
Finish: It does one of those nifty whisky tricks of getting fuller and richer – almost chocolate malt – and then changing to a light and citrussy clean finish. There’s a bit of grapefruit peel, and that oak is there too (ever used that citrus fretboard stuff on an old guitar?), with just a hint of sucking on the stick after you finish an orange lolly.

Right, this is a proper cracker, but I will say that if you’re bothered by oak then maybe steer clear. Personally I think the wood is integrated really nicely all the way up to the end when it just pokes its head out a wee bit too much (that lolly stick you see…), but I find that to be a minor flaw. It’s never drying, which is the thing that I really dislike in oaky whiskies.

My final verdict really has to come down to the fact that I usually like to share whisky, but this one I have kept all to myself, and watched in dismay as it has disappeared all too fast. Selfish greed may not be the most noble or enlightened of aesthetic considerations, but, hell, it’s honest. Very highly recommended.

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