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"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee — by these angels he hath sent thee respite — respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore. Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Cragganmore is quite pleasing and somewhat sophisticated in terms of the tastes produced upon one's sense; however, this said, there are no surprises to it, but it does possess a worthwhile degree of sophistication without being "three dimensional" so to speak.
By that, I mean the palette does not change or morph as one experiences it. What you taste is what you get, and this flavor and finish is quite good, despite its one dimensional presentation.
Nose: Wet hay, the musk of yellow tundra flowers, chimney smoke, old leather bound books of once-elegant rag paper.
Palate: Waldorf salad, honey, salmonberries, treacle sweet meat, and a faint hint of seaweed that seems to have floated up from the stygian depths.
Finish: Mesquite, malty goodness, cracked pepper corns, old leather again, and one last lingering green drop of nepenthe gathered from an apothecary in shoppe and on a street where one would least expect to find him.
For a $50 bottle of whisky, Cragganmore's finish is respectable. It is not extremely long, but it lingers pleasantly enough.
This bottle competes in the same price range as Old Pulteney 12, High Park 12, Glenfarclas 10 and 12, and Talisker 10. In Oregon, it is more expensive than OP and HP. I left out the Islays because it is not in that sort of category, taste-wise, in my estimation.
In going up against these other delicious whiskies, the Cragganmore comes up short in terms of complexity but not in terms of sophistication. It is better balanced to me than the OP12, for instance, but I do like the OP12 a great deal for its quirky "suprises" that do unfold on the palette, and have often chosen it over Cragganmore 12 not because it "tastes better," but because it challenges one's taste buds and nose a bit more.
I would be interested to lay hands upon an older Cragganmore. I have yet to come across one. The 14 year makes me mildly curious, while the 17 year very much intrigues me.
Well done, thou Craggy Kraken: "If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. . . . A mountain walked or stumbled . . . ”