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Whisky Sponge Craigellachie 2003 KWM

Whisky Sponge Craigellachie 2003 KWM


Our first ever KWM exclusive Whisky Sponge bottling is also our first ever KWM exclusive cask of Craigellachie. Distilled in 2003, the whisky was matured 20 years in a refill barrel, before bottling at 53.4%. This is yet another 20th Anniversary bottling for our owner Andrew, aka the Scotch Guy, who started his journey in the world of whisky at KWM on November 23, 2003! The label features Andrew and the store dog Walter, bathing in one of Craigellachie's wormtubs, while being served a dram by The Sponge." 90pts Whisky Fun!

700ml ml
Region:Scotland > Speyside
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Andrew's Tasting Note

Nose: fruity, funky and waxy; a bit cheesy, buttermilk, old fashioned sour cream glazed doughnuts, beeswax, and caramel sauce; the fruits start in the orchard realm with apple and pear, before adding in apricot, bitter orange, and the sort of melons you find in a free hotel breakfast buffet; there is a mushroomy earthiness and a trace of a meaty underlayer.

Palate: nutty, toasty, lush, and waxy with jucier fruits than the nose implied, and warming spices; that cheesy funk is still there, along with both beeswax and parchment paper; more sour cream glazed doughnuts, sesame snaps, and caramel sauce as well as a bit of tapioca; decadent spices, warming toasty oak, and soft nutty tones: Marcona almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashews; bright orchard, stone, and citrus fruits, as well as slightly fresher melons than the nose let on.

Finish: warming, spicy, and toasty with more nutty tones, creamy decadence, and that waxiness; all that and loads of fruit; late leather and subtly meaty notes.

Comment: this is not your stereotypical beefy faintly sulphurous Craigellachie, this is something very different; it is decadent, fruity, and waxy with a lovely little bit of funk!

Producer Tasting Note / Description / Love Letter

"This is a lusciously waxy and pristinely matured single refill barrel of Craigellachie single malt. It was filled in 2003, captured by us, held prisoner in a damp and boring warehouse for an undisclosed period of time, then finally bottled shortly after its 20th fillday. We en-glassed it at natural cask strength without any faffing about, tomfoolery, jiggery pokery or scandalous tinkering.

"It has been extradited exclusively to Canada to enjoy a laid back lifestyle on the shelves of Kensington Wine Market and eventually - hopefully - in your mouth.

"Please try to live a lifestyle in harmony with nature and remember that the path to happiness lies through the thorny undergrowth of expectation management. That, and unspeakably vast wealth accumulation.

"Love and smooches, Whisky Sponge. Xxx"

90pts Whisky Fun

"The Kensington Wine Market is located in Calgary, Canada. They're well-known all over the world (or quite) and if I ever manage to go pester the Calgarians, I'll make sure to go pester the good people at the Kensington Wine Market too, if Justin T. lets me do it. Colour: straw. Nose: Craigellachie is really a very pretty distillate, always close to a rather fatty, oily barley in terms of smells, and marked by apples of all kinds. All this remains simple, but compelling, we are at the heart of the heart of malt whisky. With water: some precious or less precious herbal teas. And apples and barley syrup. Mouth (neat): it's really fatty, but also lemony, with a beautiful bitterness and this typical waxy side that reflects the natural sulphur of the distillate. We are not talking at all about the sulphur that comes from casks in which candles or wicks have burned. With water: but how good it is! Finish: quite long, you just have to avoid adding too much water which can unbalance it a bit at this stage. Yes, that's what we did, we are sometimes really silly at WF. Comments: well, I totally love this Canadian Craigellachie, which I find has a perfect aromatic honesty. I know what I mean. SGP:551 - 90 points."

Originally written by Evan for a blog post related to KWM's 2020 Whisky Calendar.

Let’s start with a side note: Us Canadians are used to a different pronunciation of Craigellachie than the Scots. We also often know it more as the B.C. town where the last spike in the Canada Pacific Railway was driven into railway tie - and we pronounce it something like “Craig-a-latch-key” – if you drop the "k" in “key”. For the proper pronunciation of the Distillery name, the CH in CraigellaCHie is hardened to a “k” sound. I would love to link to the great Brian Cox saying it for our benefit on Youtube, but sadly I don’t think he recorded that one. Instead, here is some other guy saying it.

Craigellachie Distillery resides in Banffshire, Scotland in the heart of Speyside – not too far down the road from both Macallan and Aberlour distilleries, among others. Craigellachie was founded in 1891 and is currently owned by Bacardi under their John Dewar’s and Sons Scotch Whisky Branch. It is one of five Scottish Distilleries own by Bacardi, all of which are bottled under their Last Great Malts line of single malts.

Craigellachie is one of less than 20 distilleries in Scotland operating today to utilize worm tubs to condense the spirit vapours coming up off the neck of the pot stills. From the neck, the spirit vapour flows through a lyne arm that connects to a long line of copper tubing that is submerged in a large vat of cooling water. Though this piping might be lengthy, it doesn’t allow as much copper contact as a more typical spiral tubed condenser would.

The resulting spirit retains more heavy, meaty, sulphury notes that would have been stripped out with increased copper contact. This is what gives Craigellachie its rich, meaty style at such a young age. It is also what makes Craigellachie sought after for blending, just as it does with the likes of Mortlach, Benrinnes and Balmenach – other distilleries that utilize worm tubs. 

Craigellachie is primarily used by Bacardi/Dewar’s for its Dewar’s White Label and other Blended Scotch Whisky the company creates.

Craigellachie is one of only two distilleries to be bottled at a respectable 46% ABV in Bacardi’s Last Great Malts family of single malts – the other being Aultmore. What makes it unique in the line is that all official Craigellachie bottlings thus far have been released with age statements that happen to be prime numbers. There is the 13 Year Old that we will be tasting, as well as ages 17, and 23 years old in the core range. There is also a 19-year-old duty-free bottling and a few older that we haven’t seen much of yet in Alberta: these are 31, 33, 39, and 51 years old respectively.

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