Blind Tasting #3: Croftengea 2005 15 Years (Michiel Wigman)
Day 3 of the Blind Tasting Competition was a good one, as I actually correctly identified not just the distillery, but the exact bottling. Michiel Wigman‘s Croftengea 2005 15 Years was bottled as part of his They Inspired series, this particular edition featuring Catherine the Great on the label.
After yesterday’s Caol Ila, I was surprised to learn sample 3 was also heavily peated. However, it turned out to be an advantage, as it was immediately clear it had to come from anywhere but Islay, because the rules state that there will never be consecutive samples from the same region. Knowing that, it decreased the number of possibilities enormously.
However, to correctly identify Croftengea it has to be on your radar. And I realise that’s not the case for everyone. Croftengea is not a distillery, but rather a type of spirit produced at Loch Lomond. The occasional cask is released by an independent bottler, but as far as I know there’s never been an official release.
Croftengea can be funky and weird and different, which certainly is the case here. It has an incredibly light colour, initially leading me to think it was pretty young, but in reality it was the case because there’s barely any cask influence. Actually, this cask must have been impressively inactive. Yet, good things come to those who wait. And if the spirit is good, you sometimes don’t need much else in the way of oak.
Croftengea 2005 15 Years (49.3%, Michiel Wigman, 164 bts.)
Nose: Barely any cask influence. Subtly peated spirit with hints of green veggies, quite earthy and a touch of sulphur, but also pineapple, citronella and vanilla beans.
Taste: Soft peat, ripe bananas, ashy lemon zest and some peppery spices. It is rather briny as well, with touches of green olives and some seaweed too.
Finish: Lingering malt, some burnt toast, ashes and a hit of vanilla. Medium in length.
Very different from your dime-a-dozen heavily peated single malt, this Croftengea 2005 15 Years by Michiel Wigman is a bold pick, but those who dare to buy a bottle will be rewarded with something pretty singular.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.