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Issue 89 - Standing out from the pack

Whisky Magazine Issue 89
July 2010

 

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Standing out from the pack

Cragganmore is an anomaly – a maverick Speysider chosen by its owners to represent the Speyside region, a quiet and complex malt produced at a distillery in the shadow of the mighty and getting mightier Glenlivet. Dominic Roskrowis seduced by its charms.

If Cragganmore was a rock musician it would be Chuck Leavell. As the sixth member of a super group, it has spent years in the public eye but is still not a household name.

Just as Leavell has made an essential but largely unsung contribution alongside rock titans in the Allmann Brothers and The Rolling Stones, so Cragganmore has been the quiet one in the original Classic Malts range, overshadowed by noisier, attention-seeking malts.

That, though, doesn't make it a poor relation. Far from it. Leavell never felt the need to demand the spotlight but that doesn't mean he isn't a highly accomplished and complex musician. More than that, he's a musician's musician, appreciated most by those who undersand fully whatan essential contribution he makes. Just as Cragganmore is an accomplished and complex malt, and just as it is a whisky maker's whisky.

Dr Nicholas Morgan, malt supremo for Diageo and a man who knows as much about good music as he does good whisky, would probably appreciate the analogy. And he argues that while Cragganmore isn't a malt which necessarily lends itself well to immediate mainstream appreciation, it's one that impresses if you give it the time and effort.

“Cragganmore is a Speyside malt but it is an atypical one,” he says. “You have to work hard with it to find apples and pears. It's a complex whisky with lots going on. In its own way it's more difficult than a Talisker, Lagavulin or Laphroaig because with those big whiskies you know what you're goin...

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