1 August 2011

Cragganmore 12 "An Unsung Dramming Hero"

There are many unsung heroes in the world of whisky and despite this sounding like the opening for a review for a bottling from an independent distiller, I'm actually referring to Cragganmore, a distillery owned by that multinational big gun Diageo.

Despite being part of their Classic Malts range and highly sought after by blenders, Cragganmore largely seems to of been left off the dramming radar with regards to any consumer awareness activity.

This is a pure dramming travesty, as they just happen to produce some superb standalone single malts, including their particularly fine 12 year old expression, which really deserves to find a larger spectrum of appreciation within the realms of the every day drammer and enthusiasts alike.

If I had to sum up the Cragg 12 in just a few words, I’d have to say it’s a full on yet finesseful gutsy robust malt that can dance the tango as well as pack a punch.

The nose kicks off with all the fresh and dry grassy wonders of a country field on a hot summer’s afternoon, along with an abundance of ripe raspberries, blackcurrants, strawberries and plums waiting to be picked from its surrounding bushes trees and vines.

Wondrous waves of heather infused honey and a pot of hot rich buttery toffee then briefly joust one another for nasal dominance, but soon learn to work together in sharing the objective of delivering a damn fine dram.

A crème caramel rather exuberantly and unusually topped with an assortment of toasted hazelnuts and almonds, with a light dusting of cinnamon make for the next set of sensations, followed by a subtle whiffette of vanilla and an even subtler hint of a burning hay bale.

It has to be said that I do enjoy a whisky that offers up a bit of a chew, and although not the most full on one you'll come across, this particular drop of drammage does deliver a rather satisfying chewette. Just enough to give it an extra layer of body that subsequently wakes up a multitude of flavour sensations.

The palate kicks off with more fruity finery, well the kind that’ll keep you regular anyway. A bowl of stewed prunes soaking in syrup leads the way, before the arrival of a frenzy of dried apricots, blackberries, tayberries and even the slightest hint of some dried citrus peel.

A thick and glorious wave of fennel infused honey makes for the next set of palatable delights, along with some ever so slightly burnt caramel and another appearance from those toasted almonds and hazelnuts, with the addition of a few cheeky macadamias.

Just as the finish approaches, the palate becomes rather heathery in its nature, and is accentuated even further by the arrival of some subtle winter spices and something that can only be described as toffee-esque and lingering.

As with a seasoned dance troop, all of the aforementioned elements work hand in hand with pin perfect precision in delivering a dramming performance that is bountifully ballsy, balanced and beautiful.

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