...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Single Malt Report: Cragganmore 20 year old 1991 Single Cask (Master of Malt)

Continuing with yesterday's theme of tastings gone awry, I present to you:

Product Link

Distillery: Cragganmore
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Master of Malt
Age: 20 years (March 1991 - March 2011)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Type: Single Malt
Alcohol by Volume: 54.2%
Cask: 1157
Limited Release: 274 bottles

This is likely a case wherein the whisky was fine, but the drinker's taste buds were not.  So, I'd best do some disclaimers here:

1.  Cragganmore distills a great spirit.

2.  Master of Malt is one of the best online whisky retailers.  Their Drinks by the Dram options have helped grandly expand my whisky world.

3.  Their own bottlings have been quite good so far and I hope they keep it going!

4.  Candidly, I probably flubbed this one.  No one else's reviews show the quirk that I experienced.  There just was a sensory misunderstanding between the malt and I.  My only defense is that this was about a year ago, before I'd even started the Single Malt Report postings.

Ruben of WhiskyNotes has a good review of it here.
The Casks has an in-depth write-up on it here.
Gal at WhiskyIsrael also has a very positive post on it here.

Compare their notes of malt, mint, flowers, juicy fruits, ginger, green tea, honey, and apples with.....um.....this:

Color -- Straw with a gold hue
Nose -- Alcohol-forward, apples, actual wood planks
Palate -- SALTY SALT, perfumed, caramel, salted caramel
Finish -- Alcohol heat on the gums, spicy and long

Nose -- More sugary, caramel chews, dried apricots, cherries, maybe a hint of vanilla?
Palate -- Oak, SALT
Finish -- Still hot and spicy, but now there's SALT in the finish

Water brought out the better nose characteristics.  But I had a difficult time finding the palate because...

I felt like a cow at the salt lick.

This isn't one of my prouder malt moments, but I want to make sure that I share both the clarity and confusion in my whisky journey.

As this tasting was done over a year ago, perhaps I can chalk it up to a newbie tasting fail.  I remember sitting there, staring at my Glencairn glass thinking, "Crap, I can't taste anything but table salt.  Is that vanilla?  No, that's more salt.  Fruit?  Nope, salt."  And because no one else online has noted sodium chloride...and the bottler does consistent good work...and the distillery makes good stuff......that leaves one party with the issue.

This sort of thing happens from time to time.  We aren't always in our best tasting shape, just like we're not always in our best biking shape or our best dancing shape.  A stuffy nose, allergies, exhaustion, or just lack of focus can effect how receptors transmit information to the brain.

So, this was probably a decent dram.  I encourage you to read the positive reviews that I linked to above.  The 700mL bottles are sold out, but the samples are still for sale here.  Master of Malt also put out a second Crag 1991 single cask release here.

I'll be reporting on another Master of Malt single cask release next week, and it's likely to be something quite different than this.  We can all hope, right.  ;-)

Availability - Master of Malt only, samples only
Pricing - Bottles have sold out, samples are 4.50GBP plus int'l shipping
Rating - 78