It’s summer , and it’s pretty hot over here in Israel, this is why I am drinking less and less whisky (even when sitting in my perfectly AC’ed room I feel less of an urge to drink whisky straight, or whisky at all), But this malt was high on my whisky wishlist, and when finally I got a sample, It didn’t take a long time for me to sit down , enjoy it and take some notes too.
I previously reviewed the 19 year old (duty free only) and the lovely 23 year old (review : here) , both were great malts. What’s interesting in the entire Craigellachie range is that they chose prime numbers for the ages of the whiskies (13,19,23,31). The industry usually prefers non-prime numbers for age statements (12,15,18 etc).
This one is however a bit different as it is presented at cask strength of 52.2%, and also received great acclaim by winning Best Single Malt at the World Whisky Awards 2017 (not that it means anything, those awards are not to be trusted. – GG) . I wont bore you with many details, and no talk about how craigellachie is using worm tubs rather than condensers which affect the taste of the whisky etc, let’s just cut to the chase, and try the whisky, shall we?
Craigellachie 31 years old , 52.2% abc, NCF , Originally £500 , now much more
Nose: great start with a really classic older whisky nose , there’s plenty of wood varnish, old benches but that’s only a part of the story .. delicious sweet golden syrup, stewed apples,almost caramelised , some apple vinegar , vanilla and wood spice : Mosley cinnamon. A great melange of fruit / wood.
Palate: very drinkable and feels great at this abv, rich and hedonistically sweet at first. The stewed fruit from before , with succulent peaches and ripe pears. Hint of grapefruit , and dried pineapple , then the wood kicks in when the varnish and vanilla which give way to wee smoke and a hint of peat. Oily, thick and splendid.
Finish : butterscotch and chocolate with wood spices and wood lacquer.
This is an exceptionally good whisky. If you love older whisky notes (wood , varnish, vinegar etc.) you’re in luck, but this is only one facet of this whisky, as there’s so much else going on with sublime rich ripe fruit, vanilla, and the dried pineapple and spices. Really a magnificent whisky. Top class. I’m very much impressed.
So, is it the best whisky in the world? Probably not, as there’s no such thing, but this one of the best whiskies i’ve had in 2017, no doubt. Used to sell for 500 quid, which is not cheap, but prices are up, and i was able to find it mostly in auctions for a few 100’s quid more. What i can promise if you find one – and can afford one, you will not be disappointed.