The Craigellachie 13 is the second, and my favorite, of the Last Great Malts I was sent to give a taste to. The other being the Aberfeldy 12 that I reviewed, and enjoyed, yesterday. This foggy little dram with the name that sounds like a monster straight out of a Tolkien book magically captures both the light and the dark aspects of Speyside.
If you’ve never had, or even really heard of Craigellachie you’re not alone. Besides one of my local bottle shops carrying an A.D. Rattray bottling of an 8yr a little while back I’ve never seen nor really heard much about this one till now despite it being founded in 1891. Craigellachie puts out a decent amount of whisky each year, but like with Aberfeldy, the lion’s share goes in to making the Dewar’s blends. They had a 14 year single malt they started releasing in 2004, but it’s not exactly widely distributed so this is the first time it’s ever been released this broadly.
Located at the confluence of the River Spey and the River Fiddich the distillery is smack dab in the middle of Speyside territory, the Craigellachi village is a popular destination for whisky tourists. The infamous Craigellachie hotel sits on a rocky bluff overlooking that meeting of two rivers and has serves as both lodging and a gathering of whisky enthusiasts since it’s opening. However those enthusiast are rarely there for the little known Craigallechie distillery, but there for it’s neighbors The Macallan, Glenfiddich, Aberlour and Glen Grant. Though with how unique and delicious this is, that may change pretty soon.
Craigellachie 13 Review
Age: 13 yrs
Price: $XX (no price released yet)*
Distiller: Craigellachie / John Dewars & Son
Rich complex fruit; heavy with apples, pears and apricots combines with some honey, grassy malt and vanilla cream. Hints of cinnamon and a sugary sweetness lounge in the background until a splash of water is added and then they become more active along with notes of butterscotch and an almost swampy sulfuric earthiness. A multi-faceted and enjoyable aroma.
That same rich and complex fruit delivers here as well, but this time it comes with a charred and woody companion. Glazed honey, and a slightly nutty character remind me of honey roasted nuts with notes of burnt toffee / brûlée, malt, smoke, vanilla and cinnamon playing supporting roles. A splash of water brings out a bit more of the wood, malt and earth.
Long with big notes of fruit, woody char and vanilla that moves to malt, earth and apricots on it’s way out.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Excellent balance. I love the way the earthy and sweet notes play off of each other. A thick full body and velvety texture complete a very luscious picture.
Craigellachie is often described as having a meaty quality to it and those folks would indeed be correct. The thick tarry nose is a deep well of mouthwatering aromas that perfectly compliments the charred, woody and earthy fruit on the palate till it’s completely faded away on the finish. This is my first encounter with Craigellachie and I have to say… I’m impressed. There’s just nothing not to like about this whisky.
*Disclosure: This was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.