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Issue 25 - Cragganmore: the reclusive classic

Whisky Magazine Issue 25
August 2002


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Cragganmore: the reclusive classic

Gavin Smith coaxes this hermit crab distillery out of its shell

Unlike some Speyside distilleries, Cragganmore has to be searched for. It is certainly worth the search, however, as it remains essentially a classic, whitewashed, ‘courtyard' construction, occupying an idyllic location in a hollow at the end of a minor road which curves Spey-wards from the main A95, just to the west of Bridge of Avon.

There may be something symbolic about this, as the single malt produced at Cragganmore enjoys a degree of exclusivity and near under-exposure, despite being part of United Distillers & Vintners Classic Malts line-up.

While there may be fewer salmon in the Avon these days, and the course of the old Strathspey Railway is now part of the Speyside Way Long Distance Route, it is still easy to believe that everything remains much as it was when Alfred Barnard paid a visit in 1886, while researching his Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom:

About two miles from Cragganmore we diverged from the main road and began to descend into the valley; we passed the palatial entrance to the castle of Ballindalloch, and immediately afterwards crossed the bridge over the river Aven [sic], a fine stream, which takes rank as the third in Scotland for salmon fishing… Cragganmore is situated in the heart of a mountain district, and close by the river Spey. The beauty of the Spey valley is enhanced by the contrast it offers to the wild and rugged scenery around it. The surrounding slopes are adorned with graceful birches and the irregularities of the hills ...

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