Thursday, June 11, 2020

Scotch Review: Cragganmore Distiller's Edition

Most people know I am an eccentric with a wide variety of eclectic interests and fixations, none of which are lucrative.  Life coaches say: make millions following your passion in life!  If I did that I would have a closet full of Saville Row bespoke clothes, every New Yorker magazine cover framed, all coffee table books devoted to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, and a bank account far in the red.

Like the eyes of a cat fixed upon a bird chirping in a tree, my focus is often upon the weighty matter of good whisky.  And so, at whisky festivals, line-ups at the bank, grocery stores, and anywhere else I happen to be, the most common question I get is:

What scotch do you recommend?

Without knowing anything about the person, other than the fact that they have no inkling of what they like, I respond authoritatively with the  zeal of a megawatt smiling YouTube life coach:

Cragganmore 12 year old.  Try it.  If you don't like it, I will buy the bottle from you.

Money back guarantee always seals the deal!  And you know what?  I have never had to buy a bottle yet.  You see, Cragganmore 12 is what I regard as the gateway drug of the single malt world.  This Speyside malt with loads of honey, caramel, marzipan, the incredible lightness of clouds with a touch of smoke and a wee pinch of peat delivers satisfaction and that Day Tripper hook, that reels you back for one more sip.  Works every time!  So, when I spied the Cragganmore Distiller's Edition on the shelf at the store of my local purveyor of incredible lightness of being, I had to have it.

Now, I need to have a word with you about distiller's editions.  When these are released it is usually a new twist upon the standard malt offering of the distillery.  Often I have thought some distiller's editions are distiller's disappointment.  The higher priced DE fails to impress and often just falls flat.  The ABV is not even higher and chill filtration is still going on.  So, what am I paying extra for?  A different label and slightly different casks used?

So, I also had some trepidation when I purchased the Cragganmore Distiller's Edition (distilled in 2007 and bottled in 2019).

Cragganmore 'The Distiller's Edition'

Distilled in 2007.

Bottled in 2019.

Cork Stopper.


Chill Filtration?

Artificial Color?

Wood Management
Here is the twist, what you are paying for: aging in port casks for an unknown period of time.  I like port finishes, so here's hopin'.

About 25% higher than the standard 12 year old release.

Nose (undiluted)
Fruit forward, raspberries, strawberries, very floral too, roses?

Palate (undiluted)
Spicy, rich red liquorice, velvety texture, full mouth feel, big body, weighty, black grapes, orange peel and a complex tapestry of caramel and maple sugar.

Finish (undiluted)
Medium length balsamic vinegar, pears, port wine, and a dusting of smoked almonds.

General Impressions
Wow!  In spite of an ABV of 40%, this tastes heavier and more complex.  Complexity abounds in the warm almond/cashew and maple sugar profile with a little smoke.  Not too sweet.  Such balance.  I am really impressed.  So impressed, I bought a second bottle.

I always seem to gravitate to whiskies with a port finish and this whisky is no exception.  It is less heavy on the port notes than say Glenmorangie's Quinta Ruban, and instead offers a delicate/more complex port finish.

This bottle is a testament to how chill filtration and the use of distiller's caramel do not diminish the magic in a bottle.

Highly recommended!


Jason Debly


  1. Good call Jason. I too like a port finish --Dalmore Port Wood is a favorite. I'll need to look for this one at a local shop. Also, I agree with you about Spice Tree. Another favorite. I hate to run out. Only bottles I like more are some Aberlour expressions, and Hibiki Harmony, of course. Jim in So Cal.

  2. I also like port finishes done by independent bottlers like Hart Brothers. They do some amazing stuff.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment and stay safe!

  3. I liked this one too, although the bottle I remembered was from about 2012. At that time, we had Port matured or finished tasting. This bottle was great, but not as good as Talisker Portree or Springbank 10yo commemoration to HMS Campbletown. Jason, if you want to travel to Winnipeg, I am putting the last tasting for the Winnipeg Whiskey Club in a week or two. Still more than 150 bottles to taste before I will get back to US... Let me know you phone, so I can text you time and the address.

    1. Thanks for the invitation, but in COVID19 times I cant really travel anywhere because when I return to my home province, I would have to self quarantine for 14 days which interferes with work, and maybe my family would have to self-quarantine too.

      Anyhow thanks for commenting!

  4. Its good. A beautiful balance of sweetness