It would be fair to say that Craigellachie distillery is something of a favourite among the team here at Master of Malt. We love the classic Craigellachie 13 Year Old so when the opportunity came to acquire our very own exclusive single malt from this distillery we jumped at the opportunity. It comes from three special casks which we’ll look at shortly. But first here’s a reminder of what makes Craigellachie unique.
People love Craigellachie for being a contradiction in a glass. It’s the non-Speyside, Speyside whisky. Full of the tropical, fruity, floral notes you’d expect for a whisky from this region but also this funky, musty, gunpowder character that’s all down to the way it treats sulphur.
The distillery’s peculiar flavour is built into the malt right at the start of the process. Its malted barley is dried using an oil-fired kiln at Glenesk malting in Angus rather than the usual gas-powered ones. This special kiln imparts a smoky sulphurous taste and is used only for Craigellachie’s barley.
This distinctive note is heightened during distillation. There’s two wash and two spirit stills which are relatively tall with a wide base and short, squat neck. This encourages a lot less copper contact and reflux. Then there’s the famous worm tubs. There are only 19 distilleries in Scotland that use these forms of condensers, as they’re less efficient at creating copper contact than shell and tube. And less copper contact means that more of those sulphurous flavours are preserved. It’s well worth reading Adam’s blog on the distillery.
The famous Craigellachie 13 Year Old is matured in a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks. Our exclusive 17 year old, however, is a little different. It was drawn from a trio of St Émilion wine barriques, labelled casks 3,4 and 5, and bottled in 2023. Mainly made from merlot, St Émilion is the richest of all Bordeaux wines adding a dusting of red fruit, plums, chocolate and spice to the classic meaty sulphurous Craigellachie character. Only 600 bottles have been filled at 54.7% ABV. We think it’s rather special.
Nose: Soft, ripe, and juicy summer fruits lead the way, with waves of vanilla cream and toasted oak.
Palate: Those fresh fruits carry through, with strawberries and currants bringing delicate sweetness alongside tropical notes of grilled pineapple.
Finish: Gentle spices and charred oak bring an elegant finish, with lingering notes of vinous fruit and juicy barley.
Craigellachie 17 Year Old is only available from Master of Malt. Click on links for prices and to buy.
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