In one of the few bright spots in this year's whisky news, the Dewars/Bacardi folks decided to start releasing more of their distilleries' single malts. The Aberfeldy range received a facelift. Aultmore is also technically getting a refresh, but the previous 12-year-old they used to offer had never been widely available. Royal Brackla will have three expressions in 2015, as will Macduff (aka The Deveron). Meanwhile Craigellachie has already hit the market with four different age statement-listed bottlings. The 13yo is actually in the US (but not the West Coast for some reason). I've heard the prices on the older whiskies are very high, but at least Bacardi chose to avoid the NAS fad. Plus the Craigellachies are all at 46%abv and early reports say that the Craigs are not overoaked. So far, so good.
But since I'm no longer in the habit of blind bottle buys of brands I don't know, this review is NOT of Bacardi's new stuff (fake out!!!). Instead it's of the one Craigellachie sample sitting in my stash, an 11 year old 2000 bottling by Duncan Taylor.
I'd only had one Craigellachie before last week, a baby one (8 years? from AD Rattray) which inspired only a shrug and the designation as the only ADR I've had that was less than good. So, despite the first paragraph, I don't have the experience to vouch for Craigellachie's quality. Let's see if this sample provides clarity.
Bottler: Duncan Taylor
Age: at least 11 years old (2000 - 2011)
Region: Speyside (Central)
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(Thank you to Tetris for donating this MoM sample to D4P Laboratories!)
The color is that of a decently hydrated pee. And I use that comparison because its nose's main characteristic is urine. And no, not baby pee or yellow diapers, but grown-up whizz. Everything else happens in pairs. There's a heck of a lot of barley and pine sap. Then sand and seashells, cinnamon and sugar, anise and fennel seeds. The palate has the big barley note too. There's a momentary baked apple sweetness which retreats into a mild bitterness. There's also some salt, sand, and hot cereal. And wee-wee tinkle. Very grainy again on the finish, along with some bitterness. Lingering the longest is a very specific note that reminds me of St. Peter's gluten-free sorghum beer, a beverage unfriendly to these taste buds.
The nose opens up a bit, becoming more floral and (fresh) herbal. Some new notes of cardamom and lemon. Also sand and pee. Meanwhile the palate gets knocked out of whack. It gets yeasty, with a less palatable bitterness. There's burnt wood, salt, dry mild cheese, and (yes) piddle amongst the barley. The finish is bitter, yeasty, cheesy, salty, and barley.
So, this whisky is another one that qualifies as quite nude, but also quite boring. It feels as if it could serve as malt filler for one of Dewars' blends, though maybe with a bolder cask giving it the required vanilla and caramel notes. Water did improve the nose, but screwed up the palate. Perhaps the piss notes may appeal to some -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- but dang if it does not do it for me.
I'm 0 for 2 with my Craigellachies. If any of y'all have had good ones let me know in the comments below. If you've tried the new Craig 13, do tell. That one's price is in the $45-50 range on the East Coast; this one's price was more dear when it was on European shelves.
Availability - possibly all gone
Pricing - may have been in the $80-90 range (minus VAT, plus shipping)
Rating - 73