Whisky Review: Cragganmore 18 Years Old 1997 37.74 Fresh & fluffy

Category: Speyside single malt scotch whisky

Origin: Cragganmore Distillery

Bottling: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

ABV: 54.3%

Cost: £69.50 from SMWS

SMWS-37-74-Fresh-&-Fluffy

What they say:

Cask No 37.74

On the nose neat: new towels smelling fresh and feeling fluffy as well as opening a box of brand new quality leather shoes. The taste was like a strawberry Daiquiri, fresh, fruity, sweet and mellow garnished with a lime twist. Adding water, and we imagined ourselves sitting in a wicker chair arranging a dry flower basket in the garden whilst enjoying a toasted bagel with strawberry jam and drinking warm honey lemon water; sweet, delicate, satisfying and very moreish! After 17 years in an ex-bourbon barrel, we transferred this whisky directly into a Sauternes cask for the remainder of its maturation.

Drinking tip: Whenever it tickles your fancy

Distilled on: 5 August 1997
Colour: Gold foil
Age: 18 years
Cask: 2nd fill Sauternes hoggie

What I say:

I never pass up the chance to sample a Cragganmore (SMWS distillery code 37) when the opportunity arises, and I was even more intrigued by this ex-Sauternes hogshead finished expression released by SMWS. I am still not comfortable with SMWS dabblings with cask finishing as it detracts (in my view) from their ethos of releasing single cask whisky expressions in their natural state. Others have levied that finishing is really a way of dragging sub-par whisky into drinkable states and I have had mixed reactions to SMWS finishes before.

Appearance:

Antique 18ct Gold (8/20) numerous fine tears & legs

Nose:

Fresh, fruity, apple, pear, peach, nectarine, fruit salad sweeties, rhubarb & custard, vanilla, woody oak, caramel, biscuit, marshmallow, vanilla, coconut, sweet meringues

Taste:

Smooth, biscuit malt, caramel sauce, hint of bitterness woody oak, furniture polish, waxed fruits, nectarine, peach, white pepper spice, vanilla crème brulee

Finish:

Medium-shirt, fruity, shortcake

Overall:

Fresh and fruity – a little green oak & tannin with peppery spice – hot, a lot less Sauternes influence than I would like and not tamed by 17 years in an ex-bourbon cask, still can’t detract from what is superb Cragganmore spirit – I guess the jury is still out on SMWS finishes for now…

Score: 85/100

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