All about Cragganmore distillery
The Cragganmore grounds include the distillery and a lodge at Ballindalloch, where the River Avon converges with the River Spey, on route A95 in the upper Speyside region.
John Smith knew the Whisky business. He had served as manager at Macallan, Glenlivet, Glenfarclas, and Wishaw. So he made a deal to lease land from Sir George Macpherson-Grant. He chose the location well, because it has easy access to plentiful, quality water and was within easy reach of a railway.
Shortly after opening in 1869, and while the first editions were aging, he had a rail spur built to connect his distillery to the main lines. Thus he became the first distillery in the Highlands to do all shipping direct to railcar. This was a huge cost advantage.
John Smith was in some way related to George Smith -- founder of The Glenlivet -- who served as a trustee (for an unknown reason), until John's son Gordon was old enough to take over. Gordon also did well with the family business, and refurbished it in about 1902.
He continued to run the facility for another 20 years until The Glenlivet Co. purchased the facility outright. The rest of their story is similar to so many others, with mergers and acquisitions galore. The property is now a noble part of the Diageo portfolio, taking its place in their "Classic Malts" lineup.
Cragganmore lightly smokes their malts. Their production volume is a respectable 1.5 million liters per year, and -- like many of their fellow distilleries -- a lot of the spirit goes into various blends these days.
A good portion is still set aside for their single malt fans. They have a signature 10YO Sherry cask finish, and a 12YO version that have won a bunch of awards, including the coveted Double Gold medals, more than once.