The Craigenllachie website proudly says that their Whisky is "meanty, with a touch of brimstone" and if you don't like it you should move on. So what gives?
Brimstone is another word for sulpher, right? Well, a lot of stills and other distillation equipment is made of copper for a reason. When fermenting grains - especially barley - loose sulpher molecules are release left alone, these taste really bad - like rotten hardboiled eggs. Copper acts like a catalyst that helps the sulpher react with other chemical compounds until it improves the flavor as opposed to hurting it.
Most distillers think the more copper the better. But at Craigenllachie they cut down the amount of copper is the cooling tubs. This means that the is still a bit of sulpher floating around, and you can taste it. It's just enough to add a rich "meat-like" note to the Whisky, but not so much that it becomes unpleasant.
When properly aged, the lighter, fuit notes of a classic Highlander come more forward and you will still get a litttle toffee and cream. But the complexity and unique flavor has been known to inspire some to call it "chewy" as well.
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Craigellachie is about 1500 feet away from Speyside Cooperage -- the most productive independent Whisky cask maker in Scotland. They turn out more than 100,000 casks per year to the local Speyside producers.
One reason that they now have enough production to meet the needs of Dewers, and issue their own single malt, is that in 2017 they switched to a seven-day work week.
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The Craigellachie Distillery is located just downstream from Macallan, where the River Fiddich joins the Spey, in the town of Craigellachie. Route A95 meets up with route A941 here. The landscape is a series of rolling hills and grassy farms.
In 1891, Alexander Edward organized a group of local blenders and Whisky merchants to finance the opening of Craigellachie Distillery. The men were a unique mix of Whisky-lovers and businessmen -- meaning they knew quality, and how to make money.
The distillery was reorganized and/or sold in 1896, 1916, 1927, and 1930. Then it entered an era of good production. The place was retooled and refurbished in 1964, and capacity was doubled. John Dewers and Sons purchased it in 1998.
Craigellachie is another high-production shop -- yielding upwards of 4 million liters per year. The vast majority is used in the creation of Dewers various blends.
Craigellachie is in high demand for blends, because of its unique "meaty" characteristics, caused by the low copper content of the worm tubes used to cool the spirit as it comes out of the stills.
The high demand means that official single malt releases have been few and far between, for its entire history. But recently (2014) permission has been granted to reserve enough single malt, to create a consistent supply of this unique dram on the shelves for their fans.
CountryUnited Kingdom, Scotland
No. of stills2 wash, 2 spirit
AddressCraigellachie Distillery, Charlestown of Aberlour AB38 9ST, United Kingdom