Whisky Review: Cragganmore Distillers Edition - ForWhiskeyLovers.com

Whisky Review: Cragganmore Distillers Edition

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs. 

Diageo North America, a goliath in the spirits world, has released their 2023 Distillers Edition line up here in the United States. This is an annual release from their portfolio of brands, and this release focuses on their Scotch portfolio. They take a brand’s standard offering (like Lagavulin 16-year) and double-mature that whiskey in different casks to illicit a new take on the old standard.

This year’s collection crosses four main distilling regions: Speyside, Islay, Highlands, and Lowlands. Only Campbeltown is missing. The distilleries include: Lagavulin (Islay), Talisker (Islay: Isle of Skye), Cragganmore (Speyside), Oban (Western Highland), Dalwhinnie (Highland), and Glenkinchie (Lowland).

Each expression has a revered legacy in the Scotch world with an expansive history to match. Diageo produces one batch of these whiskies per year. This year Diageo has curated the release with an extra step by designing unique labels for each bottle encompassing stylistic elements of each distillery and the core expression used.

“We’re proud to introduce the latest Distillers Edition line-up, a collection created to celebrate some of Diageo’s finest Single Malt Scotch Whiskies and their distilleries,” says Hannah Todd, Director of Single Malt Whiskies Portfolio at Diageo. “The collection has a long history dedicated to its aging process and craftsmanship, making it the perfect gift to commemorate special moments with. Whether celebrating a holiday, gifting a loved one, or toasting to a special occasion, the Distillers Edition collection has a liquid for every type of person in your life.”

This review will focus on the Cragganmore 12-year-old core expression finished in port-seasoned casks. The Whiskey Wash reviewed the 2021 Distillers Edition – that review by Ian Arnold can be found here. Cragganmore then, as now, finished the 12-year Scotch in port cask before releasing. Port is a dessert wine fortified with brandy. Port, like any wine or wine product, has several variations and styles. There is no one type of port to suite all occasions.

Cragganmore is a Speyside distillery. The name of the region comes from the river Spey. Speyside is a unique distilling style which is how it differentiates itself from the larger and more ubiquitous Highland region.

I am a little disappointed Diageo didn’t try a different finishing cask for this expression. I am not a distiller nor a master blender, at best I’m an armchair enthusiast, but I am a little disappointed this is essentially the same whisky from 2020 or 2021, just with a different package. With that we turn to the glass.

Cragganmore Distillers Edition 2023 review

We review Cragganmore Distillers Edition 2023, a 12 year old Speyside single malt finished in port-seasoned casks. (image via Diageo)

Tasting Notes: Cragganmore Distillers Edition 2023

Vital Stats: 12-year-old finished in port-seasoned casks, 40% abv, SRP $85.

Appearance: Straw

Nose: This nose is incredibly sweet, it blooms into honeysuckle with a pinch of peat smoke, cucumber, pepper, and fresh leather.

Palate: Very mellow until you get a soft amber of burn in the chest. The whiskey is oily and full bodied as it envelopes the mouth and tongue. The dark sweetness of the Port, almost like plums, is present along with the oak char, peat, and cocoa. The finish is long and as it lingers you find conflict between the Port and Scotch. Your palate does a dance between faint notes of plum and wine to grain and oak before a whiff of smoke takes over.

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