Nestling on the banks of the legendary salmon river, Cragganmore is, for many, the home of the definitive Speyside malt. Hugely complex, rich with layers of flavour and a whiff of smoke in the finish.
“The most complex nose of any malt whisky.” Michael Jackson, Whisky Writer
STRENGTH: 40% ABV
NOSE : A combination of sweet floral fragrances, riverside herbs and flowers with some honey and vanilla.
BODY: Firm, rounded, light to medium.
PALATE: A strong malty taste with hints of sweet wood smoke and sandalwood
FINISH: A long, malt-driven finish with light smoke and hints of sweetness.
Speyside today is widely revered for its sublime malt whiskies and for its fine salmon fishing. It is here, in this fertile triangle of land between mountain and sea, long been known as the Garden of Scotland, that Cragganmore single malt whisky is distilled.
Barley is naturally a major crop, and the presence of Scotland’s fastest flowing river – together with peat from the uplands to the south – was the reason original Cragganmore owner ‘Big’ John Smith felt that it would be the perfect place for the perfect distillery.
And who could argue with his genius? Successive managers of Cragganmore have strived to continue his vision to deliver the sweetest, most complex of malt whiskies. Fruity, honeyed notes are often found and many a taster has talked of fruitcake and toffee flavours.
“One of Speyside’s greats. Elegant and austere. Gradually, almost reluctantly, reveals itself. A palate blossoming with flavours, and a long, lingering, finish.”
Michael Jackson, whisky writer and expert.
Cragganmore’s Speyside home is guarded by a striking wrought iron gate spelling its name, which was taken from the nearby hill whose greenstone built the distillery, Craggan Mor.
The Cragganmore Distillery was founded in 1869 by John Smith, who is said to have been the most experienced distiller of his day. He had been manager of Macallan, Glenlivet and Wishaw distilleries, and was lease-holder of Glenfarclas Distillery when he persuaded his landlord, Sir George Macpherson-Grant, to lease him the land to build a new distillery at Ballindalloch beside the Strathspey railway line.
Cragganmore was the first distillery to be deliberately sited to take advantage of the railway line and a private siding was built to accommodate distillery traffic. John Smith was a great railway enthusiast, but since he weighed 22 stones (140kg) and was too wide to enter a railway carriage, he was obliged to travel in the Guard’s van.
He died in 1886 leaving the business to his son Gordon, who largely rebuilt the distillery in 1901. So it exists in the form we know today, though in keeping with tradition, the two pairs of flat-top stills (designed by John Smith himself), have been preserved throughout.
Despite further changes of ownership and two world wars, Cragganmore has continued to produce a complex, highly prized single malt whisky, which in 1925 was rated by blenders the leading malt for blending in all Speyside.