cragganmore 1985 38 years casks of distinction 601269 hong kong whisky fellows wu dram clan

Cragganmore 1985 38 Years ‘Casks of Distinction’ (Wu Dram Clan)

Birth year whisky? Yes, this single malt was distilled in the year I was born. A Cragganmore 1985 38 Years, to be precise. One year younger than I am, actually. Part of Diageo’s Casks of Distinction programme, and bottled for Wu Dram Clan and the Hong Kong Whisky Fellows.

Of all the highly-regarded distilleries in Scotland, Cragganmore might be one of the most anonymous, even though it was named one of the six original Classic Malts of Scotland in the late 1980s. Cragganmore is only Diageo’s 10th best-selling single malt, but considering the lack of choice beyond the standard Cragganmore 12 Years and the Distillers Edition, that’s not much of a surprise.

Cragganmore is not your average fruity Speysider. It’s always been more complex. The still are unusually shaped. There’s little reflux in the wash stills, the spirit stills have long lyne arms and then there are worm tubs too. Not much copper contact overall, resulting in a meaty new make. That’s the kind of stuff that generally attracts experienced whisky drinkers, which is why I just used the phrase highly regarded.

Leave it to Wu Dram Clan and the Hong Kong Whisky Fellows to choose a Cragganmore from Diageo’s warehouses. Not the most commercial choice, but surely the geek’s choice. It matured in a refill American oak hogshead, yet the colour reveals there might’ve been some life left in the cask.

cragganmore 1985 38 years casks of distinction 601269 hong kong whisky fellows wu dram clan review

Cragganmore 1985 38 Years ‘Casks of Distinction’ (45.3%, OB for Hong Kong Whisky Fellows & Wu Dram Clan, C#601269)

Nose: The waxiness stands out immediately, accompanied by ripe stone fruits. Peaches, nectarines, mirabelles. There’s a touch of lemon and Greek yoghurt, but just barely. Gentle, yet bright floral touches alongside sweet honey notes. They balance each other.
Taste: Immediately waxy again. Creamy too. The stone fruits make an encore, but now also soft herbal notes, pollen and a touch of coconut. Honey wafers too, a touch of aniseed, some light chocolate whispers. Finally a pleasant mango influence, just a bit of pine resin and lemon peel.
Finish: Very long with gentle oak spices, dry tannins, beeswax and sweet cereals.

After almost four decades in the cask, the flavours of this Cragganmore 1985 have become well concentrated. It's massively fruity, but it's not just fruit juice (which would've been fine too). There's even more complexity to this elegant, vibrant single malt.

Sample provided by Wu Dram Clan

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