Today we start a six-day series tasting the limited-edition single malt whiskys of the Classic Malts Selection, a consortium of distilleries from all over Scotland. Each year the Classic Malts group put out a very limited Distillers Edition Scotch, typically one from each distillery in the group. This year each is finished in a different type of previously-used wine barrel. (Check out our review of the 2010 Distillers Edition whiskys here.)
This Cragganmore Distillers Edition 2011 is a 12 year old Speyside malt, finished in Ruby Port barrels. This is a fascinating and surprisingly complex whisky. The smoke and Port elements combine to make a really unique character that you don’t often see in malt whiskys. It took me half a glass to figure it out: brewed tea. It’s strong on the nose, and, more importantly, evident on the finish.
The body is malty and creamy, with a lingering smokiness. Flavors tend toward more cooked and stewed fruits here. Apricots and peaches, with just a touch of grassiness. There’s also plenty of wood, and that tea-flecked finish. The balance is a touch off, tending more bitter than I’d like, but by and large, this whisky’s sheer uniqueness make up for any drawbacks.
B+ / $67 / malts.com