Usually I don't wait 8 days to finish a series of tastings, but I had a slight interruption: a trip to Kentucky! It was absolutely epic, and one day I'll write up some of the bourbons I brought back, but right now let's just wrap up our SMWS started kit.
John Smith built Cragganmore in 1869, in an ideal location that provided access to water (the Craggan burn), barley, peat and a railroad. It apparently has unusual flat-topped stills, and uses old-fashioned worm tubs for condensing.
This malt was distilled Nov 5 2003 and matured for 13 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead, yielding 212 bottles.
The colour is a pale yellow with greenish highlights. On the nose we have green grapes, balsamic vinaigrette, kumquats and mint. Lemon drops. Pineapple. Some peat in the background. Sour cherry. Water brings out sourdough and clotted cream. The unusual combination of citrus with a sour vinegar note is very tantalizing - I like this very much.
On the palate the lemon is much more dominant, with sweet peat, green apple, pastry, vanilla and ginger (of course). With water we get more lemon and mint. It does have a slightly syrupy mouthfeel, so I guess the name on the bottle is appropriate.
The finish is long with peppery spice, lemon curd and toasted oak. This is fantastic stuff but proceed with caution: if you hate sour beer, I'm not sure you'll like this as much as I do, as it has similar notes. It has a very specific flavour profile that I don't find in a lot of single malts, so I'm quite delighted with this. Wonder if those worm tubs contribute to that thicker mouthfeel? This is definitely a distillery I would like to explore further, and is the best of the SMWS Starter Kit malts.