Among whisky enthusiasts, the town of Craigellachie is mostly known for the iconic hotel of the same name, as well as the Highlander Inn. And the Fiddichside Inn too. All boast an impressive collection of whisky and have accommodated visitors from all over the world. The town has a distillery as well.
While in recent years Craigellachie has received the single malt treatment by owner Bacardi, it still is far from an established brand. I even quite like most of what they release as official bottlings, and yet the distillery is never much talked about. Which is a shame really.
Like Benrinnes for instance, probably even more so, Craigellachie prides itself in its sulphurous nature. You’ve seen me write many times about how sulphur ruins a whisky, but that’s the type of sulphur usually attained through maturation in faulty casks. Craigellachie retains sulphurous elements on purpose because of their production regime.
Copper contact is kept at a minimum, which leads to a weighty and unique new make. However, this is balanced by the fruity and floral notes that are enhanced during fermentation. It’s not always a success, but more often than not it leads to a single malt with a distinctive profile. In a whisky world that thrives on vanilla-led, oak-forward single malts, that’s a big plus.
Time then to move on towards an actual tasting note. Bottled at the same age as the official entry-level release, this independent bottling from Gordon & MacPhail consists of four re-fill bourbon casks.
Craigellachie 2005 13 Years (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Batch #19/101)
Nose: Such an interesting and unexpected sweetness at first, mainly reminiscent of triple sec. Then a light freshness takes over, with floral notes, as well as apple and a touch of lime liqueur, followed by a pronounced maltiness and a sliver of chalk. Never a dull moment with Craigellachie. Taste: Slightly creamy with white pepper and malt, but also subtly drying. Touches of ripe banana and crisp apple, whiff of menthol too. The spiciness is a tad too dominant though. Finish: Lingering spices, some fudge and pear. Medium.
Fairly average whisky from Craigellachie. Mind you, I don’t mean to say this is a dime a dozen. It has character, but it does have some flaws too.