On the nose, this dram opens with a bit of furniture polish, but that and the general intensity of the flavors are the only hint of the 55.8% abv we got there. Otherwise, there are strong notes of pineapple, orange, and crystallized honey, that just scream, “Drink me!” Why aromas are screaming that is beyond us, but they were pretty clear and insistent about it. We also got a faint mustiness, like a slightly wet dog (you love) or a dark corner, but definitely not like a slightly wet dog (you love) in a dark corner. That would just be sad. We added a little water, and got light caramel and baby pine (or bonsai pine, take your pick), then some dry notes mixed with something oddly sweet.
The mouth offers bright wood notes, along with a burning sensation on the tongue (fortunately, it’s not the wood burning). It’s downright cloying, with an oiliness that’s infused with nut fats–then it just blows up on the tongue. It’s quite the intense experience, and not at all unpleasant, a bit like getting a shiatsu massage when you’re rather sore from a previous workout. Wow. With a little water, we found a slight bitterness, and the tannins were a bit more pronounced, to the point of half-desiccating our tongues. How do we know it was only half, you ask? Well, if you must know, it was 49.8% desiccated, actually, and we have a proprietary instrument for measuring such things. We have kept it under wraps for a long time, but the patents have recently come through, and now we’re just working on the brand name (unfortunately, MyPillow® is taken).
The finish is replete with drying and low-grade spice. It’s a big finish, not unlike that on Lupin, but also like that one, not incredibly long. We added water, only to find that it was then hotter on the tongue, burning us more than before. It’s one of those inexplicable mysteries of the whisky world that we love so much. Can’t explain it, but can enjoy the lacquered tangerines we also got. There are lots of tannins here, but they’re nice, especially with all the fruit notes. A very memorable dram, even if it’s not a truly spectacular one.
On the scale of things that hurt so good–
The Cragganmore 20 Year Old 2020 Special Release is a runner’s high–It takes some pain and training to get in shape enough to get that endorphin rush, but it makes the whole thing feel worth it at the time. The fitness lasts longer, but the high is quite nice.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!