Craigellachie (Pronounced: craiGELlachie)
57°29'16.782 N, 3°11'26.5956 W
Aberlour, Macallan, Convalmore
1891 (although production didn't start until 1898)
Spring on Little Convall Hill
2 Wash stills, 2 Spirit stills
4,000,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Bacardi > John Dewar & Sons (since 1998)
Craigellachie, Aberlour, Banffshire, AB38 9ST, Scotland
Yes - but only a handful and none of them recent
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
2001 - The old cast iron mash tun is replaced with a (more modern) Steinecker full lauter mash tun.
2004 - The first proper official bottling of Craigellachie whisky is released, bottled at an age of 14 years.
That's the same age as the Flora & Faune expression that was available (but not widely) in earlier years.
2007 - The distillery switches to a seven day working week schedule to maximise production.
distillery was built in 1891 by Craigellachie Distillery Co.
Limited, a group of blenders and merchants led by Alexander Edward. Two
years later (1893) it was incorporated as a limited company and in 1896 it
was reconstructed as Craigellachie-Glenlivet Distillery Ltd.
During the years that followed ownership passed to Peter Mackie (in 1916),
the Distillery Company Limited (in 1927) and SMD (in 1930). The transfer
to SMD marked the beginning of a period of stability for Craigellachie; apart
from a reconstruction in 1964-65 during which the number of pot stills was
doubled, relatively little happened at the distillery. Then, in 1998, the
Craigellachie distillery was sold to John Dewar & Sons - owners of MacDuff
and Aberfeldy and themselves part of the Bacardi drinks conglomerate.
Craigellachie produces quite some whisky, but it isn't a 'high profile' distillery by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the nearby town of Craigellachie and the Craigellachie Hotel are probably more famous than the distillery. Several malt maniacs visited the hotel and spoke very highly of it.
The location of the town in the heart of the Speyside region
(where the rivers Fiddich and Spey meet) makes it an excellent location for a 'base camp' for whisky hunters. Another point of touristic interest is the Speyside Cooperage Visitor Centre. The Craigellachie distillery itself (most of it fairly 'functional' as it was refurbushed in the 1960's) does not have a visitor centre, but most whisky tourists will most likely be more interested in that other distillery in Craigellachie anyway; Macallan. The Macallan distillery is located on the
other side of the river Spey, west of the village.
The name Craigellachie
means 'rocky hill' and
refers to the cliff that
overlooks the Spey.
Much of the village
was built on this cliff.
The town dates back to before 1750 when
records show that there was a ferry across
the river Spey. The ferry was eventually
replaced by Craigellachie Bridge, built by
one Thomas Telford in 1814 (see picture).
A 14yo official bottling of Craigellachie was
released in 2004, replacing the semi-official
'Flora & Fauna' expression that was bottled
by United Distillers at the same age.
Craigellachie is an active malt whisky distillery, but it might as well have been a silent one; there's just not that much to tell. That's too bad, because its location makes it
the perfect destination for a whisky trip through Scotland.
Craigellachie distillery is located at the confluence of the Spey and Fiddich rivers, near the Speyside Cooperage, the Craigellachie hotel and quite a few other malt whisky distilleries, including Aberlour, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant and Macallan.
Below is a picture of the Craigellachie Hotel with its world famous whisky bar.
Check out the Interactive Malt Map to locate other distilleries in the area.
1) Just outside Craigellachie lies the Speyside Cooperage, where each year over 100,000 whisky casks are produced. Those casks are to be used at one of the many malt whisky distilleries in the Speyside region.
2) The Craigellachie distillery was designed by famous architect Charles Doig around 1890.
3) The distilling equipment at Craigellachie isfairly modern and up-to-date. For example, they use a Steinecker full lauter mash tun. The distillery uses two pairs of stills, each connected to (cast iron) worm tubs to cool the spirit.
4) The malted barley they use for Craigellachie whisky is obtained from the Glenesk Maltings.
5) The malt whisky which is distilled at Craigellachie is used mainly for the Dewar's blended whiskies.
6) Sir Thomas Robert Dewar is quoted as saying 'Nothing deflates so fast as a punctured reputation'.
7) Craigallachie is one of almost two dozen malt whisky distilleries that were founded over a century ago during the 'whisky boom'
of the late 19th century and which have managed to survive until this day. The other survivors include Aberfeldy, Ardmore, Aultmore, Balvenie, Benriach, Benromach, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Dalwhinnie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenfiddich, Glenrothes, Glentauchers, Knockandu, Knockdhu, Longmorn, Tamdhu and Tomatin.
Craigellachie 1988 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, 5cl, JC/AJA Mirrored, Bottled +/- 2003)
Nose: Creamy and much sweeter than the 1987. Spicier as well. Sweet menthol & mint.
Then liquorice root. Fresher and more 'optimistic' than the '87 - very different altogether.
After a few minutes I got a very faint perfumy note. Shandy? Water melon? Is that marzipan?
Some more breathing produces some more fruity and 'earthy' tones and I even got some peat.
Taste: Hey, no sweetness at first. It quickly emerges though - subtle like flower nectar.
It slowly fades away again, leveling out. Not mid-80's material like the nose suggests.
Score: 80 points - if it hadn't been for a few weak spots it might have made 82 or 83.
In the end it gets almost the same score as the 1987, but it's a very different malt.
Craigellachie 1987 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, 5cl, JJ/AB Mirrored, Bottled +/- 2002)
Nose: Oily. Dentist. Herbal. Rust? Quite interesting - reminds me a bit of Hillside or Glenesk.
It grows very grassy over time - like a freshly mown lawn. The first time I ever found that!
More cooked vegetables with time. Maybe a faint hint of smoke? Maybe even menthol?
Not really my kind of profile, but it wears its heart on its sleeve, which is commendable.
Over time it sweetens out and I have to admit I actually quite liked the nose in the end.
Taste: Oy... An oiliness I don't like too much - but it's livened up by a peppery punch.
It's cool on the palate. It loses a few points right away and time isn't very kind to it.
Score: 79 points - which doesn't really reflect how I've grown to like the unique nose.
In fact, it's an average between a fresh (mid-80's) nose and a tired (mid-70's) palate.
Craigellachie 1982/1996 (40%, Connoisseur's Choice, Old map label)
Nose: Mild and malty. Hint of apple. The familiar CC 'middle of the road' profile.
Hints of spices and oil - and something faintly 'veggy' or grassy I can't specify.
It grows a tad smokier over time, but it never really develops a personality.
To bad I can't really add water at this strength - it'll ruin the palate for me.
Taste: Smooth, sweetish. Just a tad too bitter, dry and dusty in the finish.
Score: 75 points - not bad, but not very good either. So, that would be 'average'...
Craigellachie 1983/1994 (43%, Vintage Choice)
Nose: Peculiar aroma. Very light at first. Sweetish, with a little smoke and oil. Fruitier after a few minutes.
Taste: Sweet start with a hint of peat and smoke. Lacks complexity. Unpleasant bitterness, dry finish.
A sharp bite, but quickly gone. The nose isn't too bad but the taste is just too harsh.
Score: 65 points - this won't convert many blend drinkers to single malts...
Craigellachie 21yo 1973 'Drumbowie' (53.5%, The Whisky Connoisseur, Bottled +/- 1994).
Nose: Starts fruity, sweet & sherried. Turkish delight. Spices. Some organics as well, growing stronger.
This is a lovely dram for the nose. On the palate it started out a little perfumy, sweetening out over time.
When I got some liquorice in there it warmed my Dutch hart. So, this does quite well on the palate as well.
Score: 86 points - making it the best Craigellachie I've ever tried...
Craigellachie 12yo (43%, Master of Malt, 95/547, Bottled 1990's)
Nose: You can really 'smell the age' on this one. Well balanced, growing sweeter and spicier.
Antiquity. The nose has something I can only describe as 'inbetween oily and organics'.
Taste: It had some very subtle fruits and appeared a little bit dry. Unripe nectarines. Violets.
Score: 77 points - quite decent. A nice dram but hardly spectacular on the palate.
Craigellachie 1974 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, Bottled 1990's).
Nose: Starts off quite sharp, but after a while more sherry notes emerge that soften it up a little bit.
Over time it grows a little spicier and nuttier, but it remains 'MOTR'.
Taste: It was distinctly 'middle of the road' on the palate as well. A little woody, not much more to tell.
Score: 75 points - an average malt so let's go with that most 'average' of scores...
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Craigellachie Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Craigellachie page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the hundreds of Craigellachie expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Is the distillery or