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Cragganmore 12 Year Old 20cl

CragganBORE: NEAT Challenge Part II

0 660

@YakLordReview by @YakLord

12th Mar 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I received this bottle from my wife as a 13th anniversary present...she picked it up because it was on clearance at the LCBO (they are trying to liquidate all their remaining 20cl bottles), so it was just under $20 CAD. Prior to cracking it open, I'd never tried anything from Cragganmore, apart from what found its way into the recently deceased JW Green Label (which I greatly prefer).

On Friday, March 8, 2013, I sat down with my friend Jeff to do a second evaluation of the NEAT glasses that I'd received from @Arsilica. As with the previous test (see my review of the Penderyn: NEAT Challenge - Part I), we also employed a square shot glass, a Speyside glass, and a Glencairn Canadian. The scoring has been broken down below. Please note that for the final score, I averaged each of our top three scores (rounded up; this effectively eliminated the scores from the square shot glasses).


NEAT - N 18, T 17, F 16, B 15 - T 66

Shot - N 8, T 11, F 11, B 12 - T 42

Spey - N 15, T 15, F 13, B 12 - T 55

Glen - N 17, T 16, F 15, B 15 - T 63


NEAT - N 17, T 16, F 15, B 15 - T 63

Shot - N 10, T 12, F 11, B 11 - T 44

Spey - N 12, T 13, F 13, B 13 - T 51

Glen - N 15, T 14, F 14, B 14 - T 56

I was certainly disappointed with the Cragganmore, which we dubbed 'CragganBORE' or 'CragganSNORE'. While the box touts it as having a very sophisticated and complex nose, with sweetish notes and smoky maltiness on the finish, we didn't get any of that...what we found was just the opposite: a closed, uninspired nose with some vanilla and floral notes with a hint of butter (using the NEAT we were also able to pick out some grass and a very faint whiff of smoke).

On the palate we got more butter (sort of dry, stale pastry), a tiny bit of fruity malt, and day-old pound cake...not at all what we expected for such a highly vaunted 12 year-old Speysider.

The finish was short and malty, with the tiniest hint of smoke, but mostly there was the overpowering buttery-ness.

I'm tempted to say that the bottle was off, since outside of my experience with a few NAS Canadian whiskies, I've never had something so bland and sub-par, and even the NEAT, which performed as advertised and eliminated the alcohol burn from the nose was unable to tease much out more of it.

Would I buy a full bottle? I'm not sure, as the a 75cl bottle at the LCBO is currently $84.95 CAD...I've had far better 12 year-old or younger whiskies for much less (Highland Park, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Aberlour 10, JW Black Label, Taketsuru 12, Talisker 10...even the Clynelish 14 is cheaper...).

Related Cragganmore reviews


YakLord commented

One additional note, my personal rating on this would be around 65/100 (a straight C for those academics in the crowd), which is reflected in my cabinet history...the 60/100 represents the average score provided by both testers, as noted above.

10 years ago 0

Victor commented

@YakLord, thanks for a nice detailed review! Might have been nice, though, to have included a standard Glencairn for comparison, since they are in such ubiquitous use.

As to Cragganmore 12, nope, sounds like your experience is the way most people perceive it. It is VERY mild-mannered. Some will forgive it for that, others will not.

10 years ago 0

YakLord commented

@Victor, thank you for the feedback...I would have used a standard Glencairn as part of the test had I owned one, but as my usual glass of choice is either the Speyside or the Glencairn Canadian, I had to work with what was available.

I'm generally willing to forgive mild mannered (the Scapa 16, which I love, is very mild-mannered, and I'm definitely not a peat head, although Jeff is), but this was just 'meh' - it ws definitely whisky, but with nothing that really distinguished it from anything else.

10 years ago 0

indynoir commented

Hmm...I really enjoy Cragganmore and it's a great price. It's very popular with people starting out and I do believe that's because its pretty well behaved...nothing too big about it. However, it has a beautiful floral nose, and I love the gentle smokey malty dry tea like finish...very unique. I can't help but wonder if you didn't get a poor batch. I tried some Glenlivet 18 a while back and thought it was the worst scotch I've ever tasted. Tried it again later from a different source and thought it was fairly wonderful. But of course...Cragganbore just may not be your thing.

10 years ago 0

WhiskyBee commented

@YakLord -- Just curious: was this the first or only whisky you tasted on this occasion? I like my Craggy 12, but it's strictly an evening-starter for me. Had a dram the other night just after some GlenDronach 12, which itself is quiet stuff, and it came off like butter water (yeah, I get the butter too). But it works for me as a palate warmer-upper.

It's also one of those that improves as the bottle level goes down. More malt, better spicy finish. It's still pretty bland as it sits on the tongue, however, so I can well understand that you were underwhelmed by it. Try another batch, as @indynoir suggested, or give it another chance after the bottle's settled down. If your opinion's still the same, well...at least you gave it every chance.

(BTW, for those of us who teach, a 65 is a D. Needs five more points for a C-minus.) ;-)

10 years ago 0

YakLord commented

@WhiskyBee and @indynoir - it is possible that, like the Highland Park 12, the Cragganmore 12 needs some time to open up in order for the flavours to develop a little more...and unfortunately, we didn't have time: it was a 200ml bottle, which was enough for four 25ml drams each (one per glass being evaluated). The test took the better part of two hours, and we didn't have anything else following it. I'd be more than willing to try it again, but the price is kind of a limiting factor...

As for the marking, it is interesting to see how grading systems differ! Up here 60 to 63 is a C-, 64 to 66 a C, and 68 to 69 a C+ ... unless you're in Graduate School, where anything below a 70 is an F...

10 years ago 0

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