Craigellachie 2002 The Ultimate Review

“A Bland Speysider”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Speyside
Brand: Craigellachie 2002 (The Ultimate) 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 9 Years
ABV: 46%

Colour: Golden Sunlight

Nose: A combination of Fruity Sherry Notes, light Smoke and Alcohol. I find Malt, Buttered Toast, Dried Fruits like Raisins and Apricot, Hazelnut-Chocolate Hay, Heather Honey, Orange Marmalade, Plums, Pineapple, Sour Dark Red Fruit, Toffee, light Vanilla, Dried Herbs, Oak and light Menthol. To my surprise I also detect light Smoke, Leather and Dirty Earth. Speyside with a touch of Islay! Finally I find Tannins and a hint of Sulphur. Nothing serious though. What does bother me though is the Alcohol. It's not at all integrated. There are some nice Aromas in the Nose, especially the Fruit and the unexpected Smoke. But on the whole I'm not really convinced and this Craigellachie reminds me of a middle-class Blended Scotch for most of the time.  

Palate: Young, Oily and Bitter Sweet with Sherry, Dried Fruit, Malt, Caramel, light Vanilla, Hazelnut-Chocolate, Orange, Honey, Pepper, Nutmeg and hints of Cardboard, Smoke and Earth. The Alcohol is still too present.   

Finish: Middle Long, slightly Sour but mostly Bitter Sweet with Malt, Buttered Toast, English Marmalade, Sour Cherries, light Vanilla, Toffee, Honey, Pepper, Oak, Nuts and hints of Smoke and Leather. Quite Dry towards the end.

This Craigellachie does not accept added Water very well despite the fact that the Alcohol is toned down of course. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 82.5

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: The Craigellachie Distillery was built in 1891 and is located between Craigellachie and Aberlour in Banffshire. Since 1998 it's owned by John Dewar & Sons, part of Bacardi. The 14 Years is the only Distillery bottling. Most of the production disappears in the Dewar's Blends. During our trip to Scotland in May 2014 we passed the Distillery. Unfortunately it's not open to the public. 

The Craigellachie I am tasting today was distilled on the 20th of August 2002 and bottled on the 14th of May 2012. It was matured and bottled by the Dutch Independent Bottler van Wees in Amersfoort as part of The Ultimate series. It matured in a First Fill Sherry Butt # 900069 and costs around 75 US Dollars (June 2015). Only 852 bottles were commercialised. This Single Cask whisky is naturally coloured and not chill-filtered.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion: This is my second relatively young Craigellachie. The first one was the 2002 Coopers Choice that also matured in an Ex-Sherry Cask. I must admit that I didn't fell in love with any of them. This Van Wees bottling has some nice Fruity Aromas on the Nose but the strong Alcohol spoils the fun for me. The light hints of Smoke and Leather were a surprise. On the whole however it feels like a young average Speysider or even a Blended Scotch with a Speyside heart. I can see why the Spirit of this Distillery is mainly used for Blends. The Single Malts I tasted so far are not very memorable. No way I would pay 75 Dollars for a full bottle!

Jan van den Ende                                                                          June 10, 2015

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