Cragganmore Distillery was built in 1869 in Ballindalloch, Speyside. Founder John Smith chose the location due to it’s access to good water and because the Strathspey Railway ran very close by.
The Railway came about in 1863 thanks to the campaigning of some local landowners, eager to enjoy the benefits that a rail connection to the south would bring. The line connected Perth to Inverness, passing through Aviemore, Grantown and Forres on the way. The new service brought huge advantages to the thriving Speyside whisky industry with trains able to carry casks for storage and coal for fuel to the doorsteps of the distilleries as well as transporting the spirit back down south to the blenders themselves.
With the help of the railway, the whisky industry and the region as a whole flourished, however the line was eventually closed in 1968 as a result of massive ‘restructuring’ on the part of British Railways. Fortunately, a group of enthusiasts got together in 1971 and formed the Strathspey Railway Company. Since then, much time and effort have gone into preserving the line and in 1978 trains began to run again, travelling from Aviemore to Broomhill with plans in place to extend further to Grantown on Spey.
The days of the railway supplying Cragganmore have long since gone but the distillery has continued to flourish regardless. Although perhaps not as well known as some of it’s Speyside cousins, Cragganmore remains a highly regarded single malt, classed by blenders of old as an A1 spirit, noted for it’s complexity.
Today Cragganmore is owned by Diageo. There are just two expressions currently on the market: a 12 year old and the Distiller’s Edition. The 12 year old is widely available and serves as the Speyside Representative in the Classic Malts range.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 18 / 20. Classic speyside on the nose, Green Fruits like Apples and Pears, Lemon and Lime with Vanilla, Toffee and Biscuit.
Taste: 17.5 / 20. Lovely silky texture with notes of Apple, Pear, Grapes, Lime, Vanilla and Toffee.
Value for money: 8.5 / 10. You should be able to find Cragganmore for around £35 – £40 which isn’t a lot to pay for such a characterful malt.
Overall: 44 / 50. A good example of the traditional Speyside character yet despite it’s position in Diageo’s Classic Malts range, it remains somewhat overshadowed by some of it’s neighbours. A little unfairly in my eyes, as it stands up well against similarly priced Speyside alternatives.