Whisky Review: 2021 Cragganmore The Distillers Edition

, | May 25, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

In movies, a good director’s cut accomplishes a couple of things. You get a bit more of what you love, maybe a surprise or two, and maybe some more character development that wasn’t in the original. This applies to a good distiller’s edition as well. This review is one of several reviews looking at the 2021 Classic Malts Distillers Editions from Diageo (click here for the other reviews in this series). Everything in this product line starts by being aged in a barrel that is re-charred American oak with “crocodile-skin” charred new American oak ends. Then each distillery uses a different style of fortified wine to finish their spirit. 

This article is focused on the 2021 Cragganmore The Distillers Edition. Cragganmore is a Speyside distillery founded in 1869 by John Smith. The distillery was built in Ballindalloch in Banffshire, Scotland, for its close proximity to Strathspey railway and Craggan burn waters. It was one of the first Speyside distilleries to utilize the railway as a means to bring in raw materials and ship out its distilled product. 

Cragganmore’s flagship product is their 12-year-old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Their style is largely influenced by their long fermentation in wooden washbacks and their unique still shapes. They are on the more complex side of Speyside Single Malts. A large contributing factor to their complexity is their use of lightly peated barley. 

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Cragganmore has a production capacity of 1.52 million liters. It may seem strange that a distillery with such large capacity has so few standard release labels. This is largely due to the fact that their distillate is used in blending for bottlings such as Old Parr and White Horse. Single malts with subtle complexities often play well in blending and can be greatly shifted in flavor profile with relatively minor additions. 

For the 2021 Cragganmore The Distillers Edition, they use a 2009 distillate finished in Port casks. Port is a dessert wine fortified with brandy. It is commonly associated with flavors of red fruits, spices, caramel, and chocolate. Port barrels are used for finishing all kinds of spirits and beer as its flavor profile will often enrich these other products. Keep reading for my tasting notes on this year’s The Distillers Edition.

2021 Cragganmore Distillers Edition review

2021 Cragganmore Distillers Edition (image via Malts.com)

Tasting Notes: 2021 Cragganmore The Distillers Edition

Vital Stats: 40% ABV. Distilled in 2009 and bottled in 2021. Aged in new American oak and ex-Port casks.

Appearance: This is a light copper color. It thinly coats the glass and takes a while to form long slow legs.

Nose: Strawberry, raspberry, and caramel are the first things I get on the nose. There is a scent of vanilla custard as well.

Palate: Just as dessert-like as the nose, but not the same notes. The flavor I’m getting reminds me of bananas foster, including a bit of vanilla ice cream. The finish has a touch of spice on it with a creamy mouth feel. The addition of water pushes this further into the flavors of caramel with a hint of vanilla.

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While I wouldn’t want to drink this all the time, this is an exceptional whisky when looking for those dessert flavors. If you enjoy a sweeter flavor profile or want to pick something up for an after-dinner drink I would certainly recommend this.

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