Pandemic review time. Been sitting on this sample from a good friend of mine. Tried a bit of it and greatly enjoyed it, but only am now taking the time to finish the sample and write up some tasting notes. I am one who loves the packaging Diageo did this past year. Yes, it's different, some bottles are almost garish, but I like that they took a risk. Sure, at the end of the day, it's what's in the bottle that counts, but examining the bottle itself is part of the experience and part of the fun. I like the owl on this bottle. Owls are cool. Owl bet this whisky will be a hoot. After all, hoo's ever had peated Cragganmore?
Nose: This is nice. The peat is there, but surprisingly, it's fresh islay peat.. else maybe I just don't have enough experience with mainland peat. Quality woody smoke - what I mean by that is when you go camping and you burn the nice dry wood that usually costs a bit more rather than what you find on the ground - now that's quality! Soft yummy gummy sweet fruit snacks, pine needle. The peat is young - bold, grassy, herbacious with a hint of dirt (yes young, but not immature), but the fruits suggest some age greater than 12 years imo. This nose is stellar. Worthy buying a bottle on the nose alone.
Palate: Peppery, characterful, feisty, oaky, smoked meat with a sweet rub, eucalyptus(mint?). Drying. Citrus - limes, lemon zest, lemon tea, flowery/herby flavored Saltwater taffy. Honey, Oily mouthfeel. Didn't feel like adding water, don't think it needed it, plus my sink is so far away... ugh. Pandemic laziness at play here.
I like it as it is. Wish Cragganmore released more at cask strength, because I'm all of afeather for this palate too.
Finish; short, bourbon-like, clean and pleasant. just as tidy as you'd need.
If I were to hazard a blind guess at this, I think I would have pegged it as a young, high quality Caol Ila. Since it's not from Islay, clearly this shows I know nothing, unless said friend accidentally bottled something from Islay for me instead. It's delicious stuff. Why oh why didn't I buy a bottle? It's definitely worthy to be judged as a special release because this is quite special. The nose for sure anyways.