Craigellachie Distillers Art Vintage House Bottling (2003) 12-Year-Old
The Distiller’s Art collection is a large range of single-cask bottlings showcasing the character of a region or of a particular distillery. These single malts are chosen from rare, individual bourbon and sherry casks, and bottled at natural cask strength, unadulterated with caramel or chill-filtration. Bottle #226 of 420.
A Distiller’s Art bottling of Craigellachie single malt, matured in one Sherry butt for 12 years for The Vintage House Whisky shop.It was distilled in April 1991 and matured until 2003, when it was bottled with an outturn of 420 bottles. A very rare example of Craigellachie.
Craigellachie was founded in 1891 by some big names in Scotch whisky and designed by the most renowned distillery architect of the day, Charles Doig. It was built by a partnership led by Peter Mackie, owner at the time of Lagavulin.
It may interest some to learn that Craigellachie is somewhat unusual amongst its Speyside brethren because of its use of lightly peated malt.
Nose: Very inviting and positively dripping with honey. Thick orange blossom honey and waxy honeycomb mingle with fruit notes of cherry juice and tangerines. Sawn oak and even a small hint of cedar sit well in the background with dusty cinnamon, vanilla extract, and the faintest breath of peat smoke. With water, some of that thick honey is lost as additional, stronger spice notes come out – dried orange peel and clove. While water doesn’t add much more smoke, it adds a bit more subtly tarry peat to the mix.
Palate: Big, oily mouthfeel that’s both spicy and sweet to begin with. Much more citrus here; navel orange and Meyer lemon but still a touch of that honey from the nose. Much more wood is evident on the palate as well, more oak chips, greenish clove, vanilla bean, white pepper, and a surprising little touch of mint. While it’s still subtle, there’s a stronger whiff of woodsmoke on the palate. Like the nose, adding a bit of water, tones down some of the sweetness while exposing more edgy wood and spice.
Finish: Longish with slightly under-ripe citrus, oak, clove, pepper, and that very pleasing light breath of what’s now dry wood smoke.
Comments: Very enjoyable stuff from a distillery that’s wholly new to me. At first blush, this seems a relatively simple malt, but there’s a subtle complexity to the woodier notes, and the faint touch of peat that gives this one a surprising amount of character. Adding a little water toned down the sweeter notes, playing up the wood and spice more. On the nose, that worked, on the palate it made things seem a little younger than they were. Still, throughout, I found this engaging and quietly interesting in a way that made me wish I had more in my glass when it was gone. Recommended.