Here’s some of the official PR info, and at the bottom is my tasting notes of the range…
John Dewar & Sons Ltd. has unveiled a new range of proprietary bottlings from the Craigellachie distillery, bringing to light more of the hidden gems in its single malt portfolio, the ‘Last Great Malts’ of Scotland.
The new expressions of this previously undiscovered single malt have never been released before as proprietary bottlings.
Craigellachie distillery sits nestled in the heart of Speyside atop a rock overlooking the confluence of two great rivers, the Fiddich and the Spey. The distillery was built by Peter Mackie and Alexander Edward in 1891 and still uses traditional worm tubs giving the resulting malt a distinctive meaty, sulphury character.
The new portfolio consists of four age statements, each bottled at 46% ABV: Craigellachie 13 Years Old, Craigellachie 17 Years Old, Craigellachie 19 Years Old (a travel-retail exclusive) and Craigellachie 23 Years Old.
Now let’s review the range…
Nose: A full and meaty nose, with a sweet almost wine like character with some nuts.
Palate: Smoother and more creamy than expected, mostly balanced sweetness along with some spices.
Finish: That meatiness from the nose is more apparent on a gutsy and fairly long finish that lasts quite a good while.
Thoughts: Thick and creamy with an old fashioned type of feel to it, a nice, punchy, quality malt. Would go well with savoury food, cheese and meets. A good fairly basic start to the range. Around £50.
Craigellachie 17 yo
Nose: Similar to above, but more relaxed; the age working well, a smoother and sweeter note to it, more like dessert wine & toffee.
Palate: More easily introduced onto your palate, the age making it smoother and more easily enjoyed. Buttery.
Finish: A nice long sweetish finish, with barley being more apparent than the younger malt, which is unusual.
Thoughts: I’d have this over the 13 if offered, I prefer it’s smoother older style. Around £96.
Nose: Although only two years older than the 17yo, it’s quite a step change in nose, there’s much more fruit in this, along with burnt matches (in a good way), a more dunnage feel to the nose.
Palate: The nose follows into the palate nicely, it’s rich and thick with tropical and autumn fruits and custard. Nicely oakey.
Finish: Very long, warming, waxed fruits, puffs of smoke and sweetness. That dunnage style age goes through to the end.
Thoughts: A very enjoyable alternative to the main range, packed with a bit more flavour that holds my interest well.
Extra: Travel Retail (i.e. airports) only. Nice to see a non NAS released into the TR market! Currently unsure of price.
Craigellachie 23 yo
Nose: Continuing on a theme from the 19yo, this is much more packed with interesting flavours than the younger malts in the range. The first note I got before I even started was hazelnuts when you’ve just shelled them. It’s like December sitting by the log fire, a little smoke while you shell nuts and take it easy. With time sweetness starts to reassert along with old oak notes and pineapple tropical.
Palate: The nose gives you ideas of smoke, but on the palate it becomes a little more obvious. It’s thick, slightly smoky (from the cask) with those nut flavours coming through.
Finish: Long, slow and gently warming, the fruits a little more obvious here along with hints of smoke.
Thoughts: Much more complex and interesting, if a little wood driven compared to the others, great stuff. Around £385.
Overall Thoughts: Nice to see natural coloured malts with a good set of products in the range. All great whiskies presented how us geeks like them, well done! What would my pick be? Unfortunately for me it’d be the hard to get hold of travel retail (i.e. airport only) 19yo; the 23yo is great, but for me the 19yo has a nice balance of oak, fruits and barley malt.
Thanks to Craigellachie for the samples.