The story goes that the distillery manager of Glenlivet, named John Smith, really wanted his own place. He realized that the water in the Cragganmore hill was not only ideal for the kind of whisky he wanted to make, but the ideal location. This is how Cragganmore distillery came to be. It continued to go on within the family and grow until 1923 when it was sold off. It is now owned by Diageo and is one of the infamous “Classic Malts” in their collection.
They use concerto barley, like most distilleries currently do. They also claim to use a trace amount of peated barley for their total malt order. Their facility has a wooden mash tun with a copper top and they are currently running production 24 hours a day, five days a week. Cragganmore is unique in the fact that they are still using copper worm condensers. All of the master distillers have felt that this is important to their flavor. On site they have six washbacks and use about 130 liters of liquid yeast for the fermentation process. There is a combination of Oregon Pine and Douglass Fur. They even have one old washback left that is still Scottish larch. They run quite a long fermentation and this is because like the worm tubes, they want light, fruity flavors. The fermentation period runs for about 60 hours. Their stills are steam fired and the spirit still has a unique, flat top. According to my awesome tour guide, Tony, there are only three other stills in Scotland that are shaped like this. The flat top is supposed to encourage reflux and fruitier flavors. The founder, John Smith, had this implemented since the beginning.
Cragganmore currently produces about 2.1 million liters of new make spirit per year. About 15% of production goes to their single malts and the rest is going to blends within the Diageo portfolio. Similar to most Diageo facilities, they do not put the new make into casks on site. It is put into tankers and then taken to Central Scotland. It is here that water will be added and then put into casks. They do have five warehouses on site and hold about 7,000 casks in total. The rest are distributed throughout the country.
I was able to try quite a few Cragganmore bottlings and to be honest, the Cragganmore 12 has made it into my top ten of single malts. I guess you could call it my new “Speyside Go-To”.
I really, really enjoyed this one and not even because the infamous Michael Jackson of whisky called the Cragganmore 12 “The most complex nose in the industry”. Everyone should give this one a try and you should have no problem finding this in the states at bars and retail locations. Tony, my awesome tour guide who used to work in production at Tomintoul, is picture above with our sample selection.
Cragganmore 12 Year
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Creamy, nut, creamy oats, slight caramel, buttery almost.
Palate: Chewy caramel, slightly salty, milk chocolate, slight Nutella and long honey and wood finish.
Cragganmore Limited Edition- Sherry and Bourbon Casks that were married together
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Raspberry strudel, cream cheese, caramel.
Palate: Oak, strawberries, pepper finish with tart berries.
Up next is Glenfarclas..