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Cragganmore and The Strathspey Railway
Cragganmore was built in 1869 at Ballindalloch in Speyside. The distillery was founded by one John Smith, who chose the location for its excellent water supply and proximity to the Strathspey Railway.
The Railway was built in 1863, following a lengthy campaign by local land and business owners, eager to enjoy all the benefits a rail connection to the south would bring. The line connected Perth to Inverness, passing through Aviemore, Grantown-on-Spey and Forres along the way. This new service was to become hugely advantageous to the regions thriving whisky industry with raw ingredients, fuel and casks delivered by rail, and mature spirit carried off to the blenders in the central belt.
Distillers saw their businesses flourish but the railway line wasn’t so lucky and was eventually closed down in 1968, following a massive restructuring project at British Railways. It lay dormant until a group of rail enthusiasts got together in 1971 to form the Strathspey Railway Company. In the years that followed, significant time and effort went into preserving the line and by 1978, trains were running again, travelling from Aviemore to Broomhill with plans in place to extend to Grantown-on-Spey.
The days of the railway supplying Cragganmore may be a thing of the past but the distillery continues to thrive regardless. Though perhaps not as well known as some of its Speyside neighbours, Cragganmore remains a highly regarded single malt, highly prized by blenders and noted for its complexity.
Today Cragganmore is owned by Diageo with just two official bottlings available: the 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.
Smell: Classic Speyside on the nose. Green Fruits like Apples and Pears, Lemon and Lime with Vanilla, Toffee and Biscuit.
Taste: Lovely texture with good weight. Notes of Apple, Pear, Grapes, Lime, Vanilla and Toffee.
Thoughts: This 12-year-old Speyside malt is available for around £35 – £40 in the UK. For my tastes, however, it fares better than a lot of its neighbours at this price point. Worm tub condensers give the spirit a slightly meaty character and it has a pleasing texture for a whisky at 40%.
Many of the flavours are typical of the region but they deliver well. Cragganmore is arguably one of the more richly flavoured of its kind. It’s a little strange to me that this malt is overshadowed by so many other Speyside drams because it’s really rather good and a bottle won’t break the bank.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.