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Cragganmore

Cragganmore 12 years (20cl 40%)

€22.31 $25.97 £19.99

Malt

Cereal, floral notes, nuts

The malted barley from which single malt is made has a distinctive flavour of its own, which can often still be clearly tasted after many years of maturation. In comparison to rye or the corn of bourbon, it is quite a savoury flavour, an ideal canvas for the multifaceted influences of different wood types which make single malt Scotch so diverse. Similar flavours often found in single malt are those of nuts, such as almond and hazelnut, and a floral or grassy aroma much like that of the Highland meadows where the barley is grown.

These malty flavours are often strongest in the bold and powerful Highland drams, where cask type and still shape are aimed towards emphasising the natural kick of the barley. The influence of Oloroso casks often imparts that same nuttiness that is so distinctive of the sherry itself, meaning that this set of flavours may be found in both young whiskies (where the barley has yet to be swamped by the influence of the cask) and in certain older expressions (when matured in Oloroso casks).

Scotland’s favourite single malt, Glenmorangie Original, is perhaps the archetypical example of the light and grassy style that is one possible embodiment of this flavour profile. Its bolder Highland brethren, not least those of the Eastern Highlands like Glen Garioch, Royal Lochnagar, and Glencadam, proudly bear the stamp of their grain. It is also present in many of the Speyside whiskies which play down their fruity elements in favour of something more bold and meaty, such as Benrinnes or Mortlach. The flavour pairs well with many common cigar flavours, such as grass, nuts, or toast.

Dried Fruit

Raisins, figs, fruitcake, red grape, candied fruit

While flavours of fresh fruits such as apple, citrus or berries may be the result of ex-bourbon cask maturation, dried fruit flavours in single malt are almost exclusively due to extensive sherry-cask influence. Sherry casks, especially those made from European Oak (very much the minority today) lend whisky bold and robust flavours: the high acidity and lower alcohol content of sherry (in comparison to bourbon) bring out more of the flavour from the wood, giving the whisky notes of rich dried fruit and spice. In addition, the fact that sherry casks are generally larger than bourbon barrels (250 - 300 litres for a Hogshead or 500 litres for a butt, in comparison to 200 litres for a barrel) means that there is a slower maturation process: the more time the alcohol has to break down the flavour compounds present in the wood, the more oxygen becomes available to react with the spirit via oxidation; this results in more complex flavours including tobacco, spice, and a rich but sweet fig-like flavour. Raisins and fruit cake are common tasting notes, but younger (and therefore sweeter) whiskies may also present red grape, candied papaya or dried banana chips.

Due to their association with sherry casks, dried fruit flavours are most common in Speyside whiskies which make extensive use of this cask type. Many distilleries in this region have made sherry cask maturation their trademark: most notably Macallan, but also Aberlour, Glenfarclas and cult favourites Glendronach and Longmorn. The scarcity of sherry casks and legendary status of the aforementioned malts has driven up the price tag of this style, but those in the know keep close tags on where to find the best “sherry bomb” deals.

The dry, rich characteristic of this set of flavours means it pairs well with the toasty flavours present in some styles of cigar: Macallan and Cohiba, considering the prestige of each brand, are a natural couple, but dried fruit sherry bombs are also likely to pair well with the likes of Ramon Allones or Trinidad, and the leathery tang of a Montecristo is another good companion.

 

Earth

Tobacco, leather, fungus, rubber, light peat

Single malt Scotch whisky has generated tasting notes varied enough to put the world of wine to shame. Entire books have been published that try to do nothing but describe the taste of whiskies. This huge variation of flavour means that, if you try and condense the entire project of tasting notes to just 10 possible flavours, you will inevitably have to make some compromises. As a result, the set of flavours we have encompassed under the term “Earth” include virtually anything that is savoury or unusual, although they may not have much in common with one another. It is therefore more open to interpretation than our other flavour guides.

By “Earth” we seek to include under one umbrella all the flavours produced by light - not excessive - peat smoke: the aroma of pipe tobacco or cigar smoke, the scent of freshly dug soil, the dry smoke of a hearth fired by wood or inland peat; it may also include the distinctively savoury notes of rubber, leather or fungus that inexplicably make their way into some of the more complex single malts.

For example, peat is present in some classic favourites like Dalwhinnie or Highland Park in such small quantities that it is not at first recognisable as the same flavour that marks the peat beasts of Islay. Many of the older Lowland malts contained a thin streak of peat smoke - it remains to a certain extent in Glenkinchie, while those who are familiar with Rosebank or Littlemill will recognise a rubbery or glue-like characteristic. A medium peating level, used in many Highland or Campbeltown malts, may result in a very distinctively earthy flavour when it is lacking the saltiness that marks those of Islay: Ardmore or Blair Athol, for example, are still a good way removed from Laphroaig or Ardbeg, despite their relatively high PPM, simply because their peat source is dry and inland.

The savoury characteristic of earthy flavours goes well with the leathery or grassy side of certain cigars: the dryness may go well with a Bolivar or a Punch, while those whiskies balanced with a little sweetness might pair well with Montecristo.

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A 20cl bottle of a recent Speyside classic.  A slightly herbal, meaty nose with a spicy malty fullness tells you, straight off the bat, that this...read more

Product Info

A 20cl bottle of a recent Speyside classic.  A slightly herbal, meaty nose with a spicy malty fullness tells you, straight off the bat, that this isn’t going to be just another bland Speyside. It carries notes of honeycomb and heather, becomes delicately smokier as it sits in the glass, and surprises with savoury notes like steak spices. There there is the full, firm body laden with savoury cereal - bran and rye flake muesli with plenty chewy raisins and dates - and a sheen of freshly-varnished wood. Plenty dried fruits making themselves felt with a little chewing, but distinctly lacking in sugars: these apricots and apple peels are very dry indeed. A slight bitter orange tang in the finish resolves into lasting gentle embers. The malt is like hay beginning to ferment, the fruits like slightly burnt fruitcake, the smoke like rough leather and perfumed wood on an open fire. It is easy to see why Cragganmore is seen as grade A material for blenders: its flavours are unique and complex, but hugely bold and robust, perfect for cutting through the grain and swamping the palate. If there is a fault, it is that it it’s so rich that it’s difficult to drink too much of in a single sitting. Few 12-year-olds are as multi-layered as this. Recommended as a next step after Glenfiddich or Dalwhinnie, but more than merits revisiting by malt veterans.

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Robert Graham uses reputable courier services and we ship worldwide. Within the UK we aim to deliver within 2 working days. International delivery times vary depending on destination. After your purchase has been processed, you will receive an email notification with your delivery tracking number.

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Note: Regrettably we cannot ship cigars or any other tobacco products to the USA and Canada.

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