Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Malty Christmas Windfall

My mum thinks that I'm hard to buy Christmas presents for. But the truth is I'm really quite easy please as I have the simplest of tastes. I am always satisfied with the best (yes that's an Oscar Wilde quote I stole from the elevator at ivy,Sydney). And as I've mentioned before as much as I love rum there's nothing better than a fine sippin' whisky.
Cragganmore '96 Distillers Edition
This Christmas I fared quite well in the receiving of malts. My dad gave me a bottle of Sheep Dip - a sprightly pure malt whisky, but the real pick of the bunch was a bottle of the Cragganmore 1996 Distillers Edition. It was gifted by a friend of mine that has a fine taste in malts, indeed this limited release is a real doosey.

Cragganmore is one of the original six Classic Malts -  a group of Diageo owned distilleries that banded together for a little more marketing clout in the late 1980s. Cragganmore was chosen to represent the Speyside region although others like Glen Elgin and Knockando have joined it since.

The standard distillery release is a 12 year old bourbon cask aged expression and a fine malt in its own right being elegant and austere before opening into more complex flavours.  The 1996 Distillers Edition, bottled in 2008 has also been left to mature for 12 years the marked difference being that it has also been given some time in port wood casks hence the 'double matured' stamp found on the label.

Pouring myself a healthy tot evidence of the port wood finish is immediately noticeable in the rich amber hue of the spirit . It's a viscous drop that eagerly clings to the side of the glass like a wanton hussy. Sweet toffee and apple pie dominate the nose with just hints of Christmas cake spice, dried peel and crystallised ginger. Entry onto the palate is a little soft, sweet - dominated by wood  before it gives way to more complex fruit flavours and persistent dry finish. The addition of water opens up those spicy characteristics on the nose but bottle at only 40% abv I'm loathe to do this most of the time.

She's an amiable sipper, there's no doubt about that, though the port wood finish does seem to obscure a little of the spirits complex character. I would love to see this dram at a higher proof too.  

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