Dewar's

Review: Craigellachie 17 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Craigellachie 17.jpg
ABV
46%
Aging
17 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Craigellachie (Craigellachie, Scotland)

This whisky was awarded Whisky Advocate's 2014 speyside malt of the year after Dewar's rolled out an impressive selection of single malts from distilleries which didn't have much in the way of official bottlings before that point. This is an unpeated single malt, with a focus on the cereal notes in the blend - the malt is grinded very finely, and is drained to be quite a cereal-laden wort - so we expect the malt notes to be quite central to the character of the blend. I quite like the packaging, too - and the heavy set bottle well suits the character of the whisky inside.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L14218B701 18:57

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Rich, dried fruit right off the bat. Immediately you can see that the malt is coming together, growing in body, complexity, and integration – I can only imagine what a bit more age would do (those who’ve tried the 23 could tell you!). Rummy, with some light molasses, light brown sugar, lightly heavy and meaty – but not as much as the 13, it is quite a different malt – raisins, apple, sweet malt, spices (clove, nutmeg), and light dusty earthiness. Dried pineapple, dried papaya. The malt is so central, and it is brilliant. Elderflower. And all of this in 2 minutes of nosing - terrific! Bourbon cask notes tend to come with time, and the oak grows.

The palate again carries malt centrally, with very slight malty acidity- lightly floral and more herbal than the nose (I expected the dried fruit to continue). And we have some nice peach, and some nice spices, which meld really well with the malt – cinnamon, and something a bit sharper – an old bag of cloves, and nutmeg – and then we have papaya coming in at the end. The oak is quite present, but very well integrated. The finish is relatively short, but complex with a slight bite similar to the 13 year old. A malty influence, as from a decent lager, and light menthol on the end. Dry.

The dry glass yields some wonderful sweet oak.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $154.


Review: Craigellachie 13 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
13 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Craigellachie (Craigellachie, Scotland)

Though blended scotch whisky, composed of a mix of Scottish single malts and grain whiskies, is still the largest selling Scotch – a whopping 90% of the category – the demand and popularity of single malts has grown significantly in the past number of years. Thus, we have been able to see more expressions from distilleries which have typically been focused on creating blends – like Kininvie, Aultmore, Mortlach, and Craigellachie. In some cases, these whiskies are crafted for blends, thus having particular characteristics that may not be as “complete” in and of themselves as single malts – but they are, nonetheless, often quite good and different.

Dewar’s recently launched a number of releases from distilleries which they have called “the Last Great Malts” – Craigellachie, Royal Brackla, Aultmore, Aberfeldy, and Glen Deveron (Macduff) – brands to which there hasn’t been great access in the general market. Craigellachie touts its use of worm tubs, which is the traditional method of condensation in distillation – essentially long tubes that “worm” their way through cool water which allows the alcohol vapour to condense on the cool sides of the pipe which is sometimes said to give an enhanced richness to the spirit. The bottling itself is non chill-filtered, and it looks like there is no addition of caramel for colouring.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 83-LH88

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Quite sharp, and a bit abrasive and dusty. There is some dried fruits and bright malt notes creating quite a broad, rich, and dry background. Ever so lightly vegetal and earthy too – as you might guess, quite unique. A bit peppery and a little harsh, but this doesn’t detract much for me – largely because it is set against the uniqueness of everything else. Interesting.

Taste: Barley with some of its earthiness coming in, lightly warming, before finishing in a bit of peat where the earthiness of the barley also comes into play. It’s still lightly dusty and sharp – which might lead one to forget all about the background flavours – the vanilla, dried fruits, and grain itself.

Finish: Lightly peppery, with some cinnamon spicy feel, malt, sulphur, and earthiness. It’s quite full in length and flavour. Barley and malt last out the rest of the flavours.

This is a fun malt – and a bit “rough”, but it’s still well balanced and interesting despite that. As much as I don’t like the word, it’s likely not one people might call “smooth” – which doesn’t mean it isn’t good. A very interesting way to increase exposure to the breadth of single malts - this one. Frankly, I think they’ve done a great job creating (or, perhaps, releasing) something interesting and different – and it’s nice to see one of the classic bases for blended whiskies in its raw form. I think if I am in a brooding mood, this would be my dram.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $80.


Review: Royal Brackla 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
12 yrs, finished in first fill oloroso
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Royal Brackla (Cawdor, Scotland)

Royal Brackla is a distillery in the Highlands of Scotland, founded in 1812 but received a royal warrant in 1835 (hence "royal"). The distillery uses very clear wort to feed their stills, meaning that many of the heavy cereal notes (i.e. porridge, etc.) are stripped out. The distllery is not mostly used for blending into the Dewar’s lineup. Only one of two “royal” distilleries (along with Royal Lochnagar) – King William IV giving it the title “The King’s Own Whisky”. Part of Last Great Malts range from Dewar.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Quite a bright, fruity nose. Apples, cloves, mulled red wine, orange peel, raisins, vanilla, brown sugar, and a light touch of oak. Good sherry influence, and quite clean. Lots of rich fruitcake and candied fruit aromas. The palate has a good bit of oak, lots of spices, and nice, light, vegetal peat. Finishes with a bit of bitterness in a bit of a dense, spicy, and peaty finish. The spice, once again, is that of classic fruitcake. The palate cleans up very nicely as the flavour fades to a light almond and peat and is pleasantly dry. With the other Last Great Malts – very solid single malt.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $100.