Craigellachie Verticale tasting

Craigellachie Verticale tasting
Last week's big tweet tasting from The Whisky Wire was all about Craigellachie Distillery, one of the so-called Last Great Malts from Bacardi. "Rocky Hill" Craigellachie was never a big name in the whisky industry. Most of its production goes in the Dewar's blends.

In 2014 Bacardi decided to go full frontal with 5 of its distilleries: the already well-known Aberfeldy, Glen Deveron, Aultmore, Royal Brackla and Craigellachie. And with a promise of 46% ABV and age statements, the word spread quickly among whisky geeks...

We'll go through the whole range including the 19yo Travel Retail edition and a 21yo single cask exclusive to the Craigellachie Hotel and its even more famous The Quaich whisky bar.

The romantic & The pragmatic

  • Craigellachie Distillery, Aberlour (Speyside)
  • The Last Great Malts - Bacardi ltd.
  • 13 - 17 - 19 - 21 - 23 years old single malts
  • 46% ABV

Craigellachie 13

Flames. Flared light. Fireworks. Breath in Bonfire Night. Clove-studded baked apples. Sulphury cordite. Hefty, malty, mazy in the mouth. Bonnie sweet, but with fire in its belly.

Craigellachie 13

Colour: Light gold, oily beads slowly slide down.

Nose: Banana with brown sugar, oranges, leather, a shot of spices. Subtle hints of sherry and sulphur matching nicely with sweet apple aromas.

Taste: Spices upfront. Pepper, cardamon and ginger. A touch of malt and apples. Sweet and oily. A young chap with quite a character.

Finish: A warm honeyed finish with lots of spices. Fairly long with a touch of mint near the end. Violet and anise candy.

Craigellachie 17

A caustic candy store. Vanilla, exotic fruits. Sweet treats. Then sucker punch; a jab of aromatic liquorice and a smooth, smouldering end. A nippy sweetie of a nip.

Craigellachie 17

Colour: A tad darker then the 13yo. Thin oily legs.

Nose: Sweet and spicy. Definitely related to the 13yo. More sherry & sulphur. Buttery. Cranberry jam with a dash of lemon.

Taste: Sweet oak. Honey and rosemary. Malt, sulphur and ginger. Some lovely waxy notes.

Finish: A warm malt drink with oranges

Craigellachie 19 (Travel Retail)

Stand fast for a skirmish. Tempting, pungent pineapple. A deil’s cauldron of tangled flavours; spicy, sulphurous, biscuity beneath. A bellicose malt of backbone and brimstone. Feisty but braw.

Craigellachie 19

Colour: Pale gold. Paler then the 13yo. Probably only bourbon casks in the mix. Oil beads transform into thin legs.

Nose: A little smokiness. Pineapple, agave syrup and pepper. Vanilla pudding, lemon rind and citrus fruit. Sulphur. Caramelised banana.

Taste: More wood influences. Bittersweet. Oranges. Traces of spices and sulphur. Apples. A satin mouth feel with a bite.

Finish: Soft malt, honey, mint and sulphur. Juicy mango.

Craigellachie 21 (Exclusive to the Craigellachie Hotel)

A cask strength single cask bottled at 57.2% ABV and exclusively bottled for the Craigellachie Hotel. If you can only have one drink in the Quaich bar, make it this one!

Colour: Deep copper. Mahogany with an orange glow. A sticky texture.

Nose: Sherry and nuts. Walnuts and hazelnuts. A sherry-sulfur beast. Grappa with pears and caramel. A coupe with banana ice cream and rum-raisins ice cream.

Taste: Rich and intense. Sherry, sulfur and flint. Aniseed. A winey sour texture awakens the palate. Becomes sweeter with saliva. Sugar syrup with mint.

Finish: Aniseed and nuts. Baked apple. An ultra long finish.

Craigellachie 23

A malty tang. Oil. Grit and grist. Summons the mill house of old. Then cinnamon and a menthol dunt. Pig-headed, big flavoured. Sweet-and sulphur with each mouthful. A muckle, meaty dram.

Craigellachie 23

Colour: Gold coloured. Slow graceful legs sliding down.

Nose: Enjoying a honey glazed pulled pork with hazelnuts in a dusty library.

Taste: Slightly bitter. Cough syrup. Elderflower and raisins. Dark chocolate and baked pineapple.

Finish: Dark chocolate and sweet malt.


The complete Craigellachie range is fairly high quality. Part of its success is the higher ABV. The 13yo is a good entry level malt. Forget Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. If you want to explore Speyside whiskies pick up a bottle of this Craigellachie 13 and an Aultmore 12. I was particularly fond of the 17yo and the 19yo. Both of them have a few additional layers of complexity and I still haven't made up my mind which one to choose.

The 21yo is a superb sherry bomb and an absolute star but is fairly unknown and hard to find. I don't know if there are bottles up for sale but if so make sure to drop me a line! The 23yo is simply too expensive for me. A truly great whisky but it didn't impress me as much as the 21yo.

 Source and pictures: The Whisky Wire & Craigellachie 

A final word of thanks to Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire, Stephen Marshall and the team at Bacardi and the people from Quercus Communications.