Independent bottlings of Cragganmore are not plentiful, and this particular one expression is two casks (1903 and 1904) that underwent a finish in a Pedro Ximénez cask by independent bottler Wilson & Morgan of Edinburgh.
Despite being almost the lowest selling Classic Malts brand Diageo has (Glenkinchie is less popular), it is touted as the most complex of the original six Classic Malts range. The malt is lightly peated, and has a very distinct, and rather dry, character.
The distillery has four stills: two lantern type wash stills and two rather strange flat topped boiling ball type spirit stills, with a design that actually harks back to the distillery’s inception in 1869, and it is said that together with the rather hard and mineral filled water, which possibly contributes to spiciness in the final product.
The distilled spirit goes through worm tubs before making its way back into through the spirit safe to be casked, retaining this feature like most of the Diageo original six “Classic Malts” (five regional malts – Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Oban and Talisker use worm tubs – with Lagavulin being the only exception), with Dalwhinnie having tried to switch to shell and tube condensers in the 1990s, but going back to using worm tubs as the new condensing method effected the spirit. Not everything, though, is old fashioned and quaint at Cragganmore, as it is connected to the Glenlivet-Tormore-Tomintoul gas pipeline, delivering natural gas directly from Scotland’s main pipeline.
Wilson and Morgan Barrel Selection, 20 Year Old Cragganmore (1993-2013), Sherry Wood Finish PX Casks 1903+1904, 615 Bottles (50% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Copper, thin legs.
Nose: The Pedro Ximénez sherry jumps out at you, but it’s quite gentle and not syrupy in the least. Smoke, toffee, honey and light vanilla notes come together. Under the different levels of smokiness, it reminded me of the Lagavulin DE’s Pedro Ximénez sherry.
Palate: The peat and the Pedro Ximénez play ball with each other, creating a treacle like flavor. Pepper, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg with a sugared orange peel and a clovey sweetness.
Linger: Short, even very short, leaving behind a certain dryness (to be expected with a Cragganmore, of course, known for producing really dry whisky) and a latent sweet spice.
Well made, this W&M expression is enjoyable. The sherry works quite well with the spirit.
Thanks Oliver for sharing this lovely dram with me. Sláinte!