On the night we sampled and noted 5 expressions including a travel retail exclusive, a special bottling for a local hotel and a limited edition.
Its always interesting to do a vertical tasting (moving along a range of whiskies in ascending age order) as it gives you a great feel for the core characteristics of that particular distillery as well as the subtle differences between them all. I have long been an advocate of the 13 y.o expression, there just seems to be something about it that suits my palate. What difference will a few extra years maturation make? Time to dive in and find out.
Craigellachie 13 y.o, OB, 46% abv (available here)
On the nose there is a massive pineapple hit, green apples and waxy honey. There is a slightly herby and grassy note lingering in there somewhere too.
The palate is initially malted toffee with allspice and cloves. The pineapple is again present with a slight waft of cordite. The finish is mildly sulphuric with tropical fruit notes and a slightly sherry feel before fading to a ginger, spiced note.
Craigellachie 17 y.o, OB, 46% abv (available here)
The nose is again heavy on tropical fruits and waxy honey but there is more sweetness here than in the 13 in the form of candy floss, marzipan and plums. It has also got a slight touch of sulphur and a faint nuttiness creeping in.
The palate is warming but has a mild aggression not found in the 13. There are toffee and caramel notes, mixed with fresh wood, vanilla, orange and a slightly oily mouthfeel.
The finish gives charred wood lingering burnt vanilla.
The nose on the 17 is much sweeter and more refined than the 13 but its almost the opposite on the palate with the 13 seeming much smoother. What we really need is to combine the nose of the 17 and the palate of the 13…
Step forward the 19.
Craigellachie 19 y.o, OB, 46%
It is still the distinctive Craigellachie nose but its staring to get a little floral as well as fruity. Hints of over-ripe green apples, earl grey tea and now rum n raisin flavours are starting to emerge.
The palate is similar to the 17 but more restrained. Still tropical and sweet but now we find manuka honey, peppery sulphur, apricot jam and Creme Brûlée. The finish is woody but gentle, with warming spice and vanilla.
Definitely my favourite so far.
Craigellachie 21, OB, 57.2% abv (Bottled exclusively for the Quaich Bar)
The only cask strength bottling of the evening and its an absolute cracker.
On the nose we have beeswax, sherried fruits, wood notes (mahogany and perhaps cedar) and a touch of sulphur.
The palate is smooth (surprisingly so considering the abv) the brand standard waxyness and cordite notes are there along with blackcurrants, toffee apples, heather honey, bannanas and ginger, all wrapped up in a fantastic oily mouthfeel.
The finish doesn’t disappoint. The sherried fruits reappear to perfectly round off the mild peppery cordite finish.
Spectacular stuff. It gets no better.
Or does it?
Craigellachie 23 y.o, OB, 46% abv (available here)
The nose is full of waxy honey, rum alongside notes of leather and old books. There are many things you can fake, enhance or hide in a whisky, but a nose like that is crafted, not manufactured.
The palate is phenomenal. Honey glazed ham, toasted vanilla, salted white chocolate and Creme brûlée fill the mouth before leaving a finish that smoothly fades away with a light spice and a honey note that just lingers for hours.
Genuinely one of the best whiskies I have tried this year, indeed in many years. Top drawer.
Another fantastic Twitter tasting organised by The Whisky Wire. A pleasure to take part as usual. Thanks also to Craigellachie for the smashing set of samples.