The following originally appeared on Guid Scotch Drink on March 2, 2010:
Bottled in 2004 by Diageo, this 10 Year Old, cask strength Cragganmore was one of 15000 bottles. I bought a bottle from Binny's in 2006 for $70 while my good friend, Karl, bought a bottle at Loch Fyne Whiskies at the end of last summer for the equivalent of $60 (before shipping). While neither of those two places has it available any longer, The Whisky Exchange does, as do Park Avenue Liquor. This young, Bodega European oak aged Cragganmore is well worth investigating:
Cragganmore 10 Year Old, 60.1% ABV
N: Very floral (honeysuckle), creamy toffee notes surround the floral ones, hints of ground gray pepper in there, too, prickle from the high ABV
P: Deliciously oily mouthfeel, the honey notes fill the whole mouth, but it's also fruity and spicy -- well balanced considering the strength, although there is a little burn in to the chest
F: Long and sweet, the mouth waters with the memory of what has gone before, that delicious Cragganmore salt remains on the lips
With water: I don't like to add a drop or two of water because I love what cask strength whiskies bring to the table but in this instance I thought the move was warranted. The toffee on the nose is more pronounced while the honey recedes; the chest burn has gone but the honey remains, the fruit and spice has receded; goes down very easily although neither as long nor as sweet
In conclusion: An insane bargain at $70 (you never know what you have till it's gone). If I still lived in the UK I'd be buying a bottle of this a month at £45. From the floral nose, through the oily, honey palate, into that long, sweet finish this is a top quality bottling. It's like the much bigger brother of the Hazelburn 8 Year Old. Did I mention it's delicious?