Craigellachie 1997 Connoisseurs Choice

Craigellachie 1997 Connoisseurs Choice

Whisky Review (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, 2014)

  • Category: Speyside single malt scotch whisky
  • Origin: Craigellachie Distillery
  • Bottling: Gordon & MacPhail; Connoisseurs Choice
  • ABV: 46%
  • Cost: £64.32


What they say

Gordon & MacPhail, one of the world’s leading single malt whisky specialists, has selected a special series of whiskies to showcase the company’s ‘The Wood Makes the Whisky’ campaign which highlights the importance of this essential element in the whisky maturation process.

For over 120 years Gordon & MacPhail has carefully matched spirit with oak in order to ensure a premium taste which reflects the company’s philosophy. Through ‘The Wood Makes the Whisky, campaign consumers are invited to gain a more in-depth insight into how Gordon & MacPhail’s approach to matching wood to spirit has shaped a number of whiskies in their portfolio.

Using expertise honed over four generations, Gordon & MacPhail believe that wood really does make the whisky, with their skilfully coopered casks delivering a full spectrum of flavour compounds; from sweet vanilla notes found through Bourbon cask maturation to rich toffee, dark chocolate and spice notes derived through maturation in Sherry casks.

The array of flavours derived from oak are abundant across the Gordon & MacPhail portfolio, with each whisky demonstrating a unique flavour profile which reflects the cask type as well as the distillery character.

Gordon & MacPhail has selected a series of whiskies, from various Collections including Connoisseurs Choice, The MacPhail’s Collection and Rare Vintage, which they feel best demonstrate ‘The Wood Makes the Whisky’ philosophy.

A book and website have been created to accompany the campaign which can be used to guide whisky lovers through the series, explaining the flavours of each whisky and how this relates to the wood.

Ewen Macintosh, Chief Operating Officer said “Here at Gordon & MacPhail we have always been focused on the close relationship between oak and spirit, and have learned from vast experience that wood really does make the whisky. We have selected the special series of whiskies to demonstrate this complex relationship.

“Our unrivalled collection is a liquid library showcasing whiskies from numerous Scottish distilleries, age profiles and whisky characteristics. From branch to barrel, we aim to deliver a perfectly matured whisky time and time again.”

For more information on the Wood Makes the Whisky campaign please visit [].

  • Colour: Dark Straw.
  • Body: Medium.
  • Finish: Medium with lingering fruit flavours.
  • Cask Type: Refill Bourbon Barrels.
  • Style: Summer Dram.

Official tasting notes:

  • AROMA without water: Light and fruity with hints of lemon and kiwi. Coconut and toasted malt aromas linger.
  • TASTE without water: Chilli spice initially on the palate, raspberries and dark chocolate flavours develop with a lingering hint of tobacco.
  • AROMA with water: Sweet and fruity with pineapple, lemon and apricot jam aromas. A subtle hint of smoke and a vanilla edge develops.
  • TASTE with water: Chilli spice with fresh fruit flavours of grapefruit and peach.

What I say

The 4th and final dram from this sample batch kindly provided by Gordon & MacPhail highlighting their ‘The Wood Makes he Whisky’ campaign was distilled at Craigellachie Distillery in Speyside. Another refill bourbon barrel matured expression this is ~ 17 years old.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Chardonnay white wine (5/20), fine droplet tears leave fine legs
  • Nose: Lemon puff & custard cream biscuits, lemon citrus, biscuit malt, crystalline, powdered egg, hint of sulphur, egg custard, vanilla, coconut, custard tart pastries topped with finely ground fresh nutmeg.
  • Taste: Mouth-filling, rich and creamy, vanilla cream, lemon & lime macarons, egg custard tart, ground almonds, medium-heavy bodied, zesty, lemon drizzle cake/icing, citrus, sugar crystals, sherbet fizzing in oily molten butter, tablet, toasted coconut, lemon & lime.
  • Finish: Medium-long, sweet zesty and buttery.


Very long, well-integrated flavours, a little fizzy and citric from the fruity and richly sulphuric spirit but with a dollop of good vanilla custard from the ex-bourbon oak casks. A nice weight to the body from the spirit character too – it is always nice to recognise familiar distillery elements, again suggestive of masterful maturation bringing the best from both spirit & cask.

Score 84/100

Buy Craigellachie 1997 Connoisseurs Choice (opens Master of Malt)

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