The Cragganmore LTD Diageo release opens by a hearth upon which soup is simmering in an iron pot. Beyond chicken stock, there’s leeks, barley, eucalyptus tree twigs, koala whiskers, and unpolished agate nodules that were, nevertheless, smoothed by ocean currents, and thankfully not mistaken for egg noodles. It’s enigmatic and fleeting, like that memory of the website that you knew had something that you wanted, but you were reading a really good article and decided to defer going to it, but now you’ve forgotten it, perhaps forever, leaving only that rare impression of a perhaps transfigurative event ever-so-slightly out of reach. There are also freshly laundered nappies and honey made from sunflowers dribbled into linden tea. It’s custard poured into star-shaped cookie cutters, then served, impishly, to a visiting dignitary.
The mouth is rich like Scrooge McDuck, scrumptious like Peking duck, and really ridiculous like Duck Duck Goose. It’s a depth charge that Bruce the Shark would be afraid to swim near. Pandora’s Box has been opened, and the gift receipt lost: Innocence is lost, but wisdom is gained through some sort of wry Hegelian inevitability. There’s a shearling-coated titanium drill bit boring holes into my soul and filling them with so much flavor-conveying fatty lipids that I’m getting clogged aretēs.
[John: Do you intend the plural of aretē, the Greek word for ‘excellence,’ Bill? That’d be aretai, not aretēs. You’re welcome!]
The finish is everything you’d expect after the mouth, yet unexpected. It’s like the end of the Sixth Sense, where everything—and I mean everything—falls into place and suddenly in a gestalt moment makes perfect sense. It’s spicy in a non-prickly savory way; like an eggplant parmigiana made with smoked mozzarella, olive oil, and moon-dried tomatoes. (The tomatoes took a really long time.) It’s sweet, and also rich, but not eggy, not caramelly, yet still akin to crème brulée. It’s how I imagine a lazy afternoon with Salma Hayek Jiménez de Pinault would unwind. My tongue and digestive tract are eloping with the dish and the spoon, leaving me with an empty glass. I am baffled, yet content.
On the scale of things with enough depth and self-referentiality to fracture your consciousness–
The Cragganmore Limited Release (2016 Limited Edition) is Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem–The more you look at it, the less it makes sense, yet the more foundationally true it becomes. It uses numbers and arithmetic to explain that not everything can be said with numbers and arithmetic. The Cragganmore Limited uses whisky to explain that although this whisky says everything, there is more whisky to drink (but no more Cragganmore Limited in our glass, alas).
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!