Craigellachie 13 year old
Built atop a rocky cliff that overlooks the Spey river as it winds past the town of Aberlour, stands Craigellachie distillery. Founded in 1891 by a consortium of whisky merchants led by Peter Mackie, owner of Lagavulin, and whisky titan Alexander Edward, the distillery was designed by the prolific architect Charles Doig. Since that first run of spirit in 1898 most of Craigellachie's (pronounced Krai-GELLaKee) output has been destined for blending. Originally, the spirit went near exclusively into Mackie's iconic "White Horse" blended whisky. These days, it's found a new home as a core component of Dewar's line of blended whiskies.
With only a handful of official single malt bottlings released and a relative scarcity of independent bottlings, Craigellachie has retained a lower profile than most other distilleries in Speyside among consumers. Known for its lightly sulphurous and meaty character, due in part to the use of cast iron worm tubs to condense the spirit, aged single malt expressions of Craigellachie are now more widely available as part of Dewar's Last Great Malts collection.
Bottled at 46% ABV and non chill-filtered, this 13 year old expression is the first distillery label single malt to be released since the early 2000s.
Nose: Scents of cut pineapple, bananas, and warm cereal
Palate: Punchy and somewhat oily in texture, there's a malty sweetness that's soon joined with an astringent citrus oil and peppery heat. Accompanied by a whisp of sandalwood smoke and oaky vanilla; a smear of salted caramel keeps things from getting too surly.
Finish: Extra long finish that hangs around in excess of five minutes like you've just eaten a rice pudding flavoured with toasted oaky vanilla and a pinch of fennel seed and cardamon.
Overall: At the risk of anthropomorphizing my whisky, this one behaves just like a moody, pubescent, child. One sip; it's all sweetness and light and the next you could be dealing with a hot-tempered hellion. Slightly awkward, there's an astringency to the spirit that doesn't play nicely with food, even my usual whisky snacks. However Craigellachie 13 year old is not totally without charm, as the dram shows a fantastic length in the finish that's both warming and almost chewy.It's an interesting whisky given it's relative rarity, yet I can't say that I would seek out another bottle of the 13 year old. There's potential, but I'd like taste it after it's had a few more years to mellow. Currently retailing at $79.95 in LCBO, I would highly suggest that you try this expression of Craigellachie before you buy if you've never sampled this oddball Speysider.