A Sublime Craigellachie You Don’t Want to Miss
1995 Craigellachie 22 Year Old “Old Particular” KL Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($119.99)
“I pray every year for more casks just like this one, but they’re not easy to find. Profit while you can.”
—David Othenin-Girard, KL SoCal Spirits Buyer
For those who crave rich and unctuous sherry-matured malts in the style of Macallan, Glenfarclas, and Glendronach, but for a fraction of the price, Craigellachie is the perfect pick. After their prized 31-year edition earned the title of “Best Single Malt in the World” from Whisky Magazine back in 2017, interest in the once little-known Speyside distillery exploded. While prices have crept up modestly since this high honor was bestowed, Craigellachie remains one of the greatest values in Scotch. Featured here is their stunning 22 Year Old “Old Particular” bottling—a Scotch that every bit lives up to the sterling reputation of this fine distillery. Multi-dimensional, engaging, and supremely satisfying, this 22 Year Old is as delicious as it is compelling. There is quite simply not another Scotch on the market that offers so much for such a modest price. A mere 243 bottles were made, so there isn’t a lot to go around, and based on how quickly last year’s 21 Year Old version sold, this Craigellachie won’t be around for long.
We’ve been absolutely obsessed with Craigellachie this season. Few distillers offer as much value as this understated and underappreciated distillery. Situated just across the River Spey from the region’s most famous sherried single malt, Craigellachie has been dutifully chugging away without much fanfare for more than a century. If you pull off the A95 on the way to Dufftown, just moments before the turn off for the Highlander Inn, you’ll pass right by the big signs for John Dewar Sons. The slightly modern stillhouse is deceiving, as Craigellachie is one of the Speyside’s most old-school malts in terms of flavor. The bold complex spirit is particularly well suited for a few decades-long journey in a quality sherry butt. The combination gives the savory spirit the perfect frame, allowing the alluring flavors that complement each other perfectly. This might be the most complex whisky in the shop in any category or price range. Expect a dense bouquet of old growth pine forests, leather bound library books, all situated around some deep complex nearly indescribable minerality. Waxy bold spiced fruit, warm dates and endless notes of mint and chocolate contrast the very savory nose. Undeniably one of the malts of the season and certain to be many aficionados’ favorite of the year. Gift this confidentially to even the most jaded or expert drinker and you can be certain that they’ll be enamored by its distinctive character, a style that’s nearly extinct in Scotland today.
David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 13, 2018
This one is just too obvious. It’s too dark, rich, and packed full of powerful sherry to warrant me hyping it up here. You know the drill. Insane price? Check. Unprecedented quality? Check. Nothing on the market like it at this price point ANYWHERE? Check and check. It’s so true it hurts. Craigellachie and sherry is a match made in heaven. Expect top-of-the-line quality here; only those specifically averse to sherry will turn their nose up. Big nutty, rich rancio, sweet freshly tanned hide, roasted coffee beans, and fudge all balanced by the intense minty spirit of Craigellachie. The competition would have no qualms about asking twice the price considering the quality and age, but that’s just not how we roll. I pray every year for more casks just like this one, but they’re not easy to find. Profit while you can.
Andrew Whiteley | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 01, 2018
A wondrous malt. With time, the young and meaty quality of Craigellachie turns to richness and with the removal of this cloak of youth so too comes an incredibly fruity array of flavors. While the power of young Craigellachie is decidedly appealing in its own right, the more mature spirit is the adoration of whisky fans all over the world for easy richness. This 22 year old is a perfect example. From a refilled sherry butt the first thing that will strike you is just how dark this whisky is. The market square in Marrakesh comes to mind; laden with desert fruits, each stall a colorful, scent-filled, tasteful example of the hidden bounty to be found in a seemingly barren landscape if you have the patience to look for it. Dried dates and saddle leather mingle with nuts and coffee. A little water tames the darker nature in spirit and a more familiar array of fruits and florals appear. Jasmine and peaches linger on the finish in a rich and spiced chocolate sauce. At a mere 120 bucks, this has a serious claim to best value in the current lot of malts. Just compare it to the 23 year distillery bottling at $250!
Jeffrey Jones | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 10, 2018
This single malt bottling is a real value. Other single malts that offer this style of whiskey can easily cost much more. It is full bodied and rich with juicy and deep flavors. There is an influence from the sherry barrel aging but it does not dominate and helps give flavor and balance to this offering. There is a nice long finish and it opens up with a splash of water.
Joe Manekin | KL Staff Member | Review Date: December 05, 2018
Dried fruit aromas combine with gently roasted nuts, leading to a similarly classy Oloroso sherry-influenced profile on the palate. Subtle medicinal hints add to the authenticity of this elegant, sherry butt-aged single malt. Water brings out a touch more brine, and does not detract from the spirit, but certainly is not essential. Very good stuff.
Neal Fischer | KL Staff Member | Review Date: November 30, 2018
Wow. The juice in this bottle is so deep and dark that you do a double take at the label to make sure that yes, indeed, there is no color added to this Scotch. You can tell just by looking at it how much impact the sherry barrel is having on the resulting whisky. And yeah, that sherry influence fully comes through on the nose. Very dark fruits, candied orange, brandy cherries, and sultanas combine with notes of hazelnut, almonds, and toasted walnut. The palate keeps those fruit notes and makes them darker with blackberry, currant, and plum all sitting in molasses. As the flavors develop there’s dark chocolate, tobacco, charred oak, and a sudden powerful spice boom at the end. Scrumptious!