Craigellachie – 17-years-old
(Batch # 98-ZC21, 46%)
Craigellachie used to be fairly obscure, but there seems to be more around these days from independent bottlers, and a new-ish all-prime-number-aged official line. The 23-year-old is, by the way, very nice indeed but insanely overpriced, and the 13 a bit meh. So let’s have a look at the middle entry in the range, resplendent in its faux-retro packaging.
Nose: The first thing that jumps out at me is a bit of sulphur. I’m going to assume that this is a result of the worm tubs that the bottle tells us Craigellachie use (see note below), although maybe there’s a bit of sherry cask in here too. The label doesn’t say anything about that. Indeed the base here is all coconut, vanilla and pineapple, all of which are more suggestive of American oak. It’s a combination that always reminds me of gorse flowers by the by, and there is a definite floral aspect to this nose. You also find a bit of apple tarte tatine, dried apricots, marzipan, and a hint of clay/putty.
Taste: Big and beefy. Malty and slightly smoky too. The vanilla, coconut and pineapple (grilled? with some black pepper?) are all still present, as well as a bit of toffee and nut sweetness. The floral character is now darker, going towards vetiver, and almost leaning towards the medicinal.
Finish: Lemon drops, almond milk, malt, and a faint smack of eau de cologne. Quite zesty and long.
Right, before I go on I’m just going to say that I have to applaud Craigellachie (or, well, the big mega-corp who own them…) for creating a range of official bottlings that really aren’t bland, polished or lacking in character. There’s a lot going on with this whisky. I’ll also say that we had this at a recent tasting and everyone there loved it.
I’m not totally in their camp unfortunately. I think this is a thoroughly decent dram with quite some personality, but I find the perfumey and coconut threads that goes through this whisky not to my liking. This point is, of course, a matter of taste, and you should try for yourself if you get the chance, although I think the rather steep current retail price (~£85) might do more to put you off.
Note: What are worm tubs, and how do they create sulphurous notes in whisky? Here’s a guide.