There’s something about Cragganmore that just really ticks a lot of boxes. It’s quite a singular whisky. One that I feel like—if I would familiarise myself a bit more—would fall into the Bowmore, Springbank and Benromach category, all whiskies that I’ll quite confidently recognise in blind tastings.
You just don’t see it that often. It’s an important ingredient in Diageo’s recipes and the one bottler that does seem to have a lot of stock is the Scotch Malt Whisky Society — of which I’m not a member. So I’ll make do with the occasional official bottling, such as this 17-year-old from a while back. It actually has the same vintage as the release I’m reviewing today.
This Cragganmore 1988 25 Years was part of the Diageo Special Releases 2014 and has matured in American and European oak refill casks. Seriously, hurray for that! No engineered Bodega casks or re-charred barrels, as we’ve seen in recent years. I can give away that we’re in for a treat…
Cragganmore 1988 25 Years (51.4%, OB, Special Release 2014)
Nose: Pretty recognizable Cragganmore from that era (or in general maybe), as the lemon yoghurt aroma is the first thing I notice. There’s just a hint of sulphur and soft notes of moss, but also ripe apples and a distinct note of aniseed. Taste: Sweet arrival (honey) with lots of oranges and a hint of eucalyptus. Very oily and mouthcoating. Pickled lemon, apricots and a pinch of pepper too, but overall the sweet fruitiness is what stands out. Excellent! Finish: Soft spices and tannins, but mainly beeswax and vibrant citrus.
A triumph! I really did not expect to like this as much as I do. It’s a whisky that’s been sitting in my sample drawer for nearly four years, but I should’ve reviewed this a long time ago. Expensive upon release but still widely available — and that price does look slightly better in the current whisky climate.