Craigellachie Cask Collection’s first release revealed

John Dewar & Sons has announced the first expression to be released in the Craigellachie Cask Collection, Craigellachie 13 Years Old Armagnac Cask Finish.

To curate the new series, Craigellachie – inspired by the distillery’s use of old-fashioned worm tub condensers – have sourced casks for finishing from producers of oak-aged spirits, who also stick to traditional methods, and like the muscular Speysider, use a ‘worm tub’ to create their liquid wares.

Using casks from distilleries who make a ‘heavier’ style of spirit, which can stand up to the single malt’s distinct character, Craigellachie’s malt master, Stephanie Macleod is able to demonstrate her expertise and skill in the art of maturation and wood management. Carefully hand-picking casks based on personal experience, and prior knowledge of working with certain types and styles.

Stephanie said: ‘Craigellachie is a distinctly bold and brooding malt; full-bodied and meaty so we are using these cask types to complement and elevate the signature character of the distillery, not mask it, to add an extra dimension of flavour and intrigue.’

For the inaugural edition in the Cask Collection, the award-winning 13-year-old Craigellachie Single Malt, initially matured in American Oak – a combination of re-fill and re-char Bourbon barrels – has been laid to rest in Bas-Armagnac casks sourced from the northernmost part of Gascony, in France, for just over a year, to undergo a second period of maturation.

Often overshadowed by Cognac, Armagnac is a far older and more distinctive French brandy with its very own customary production process. Distilled just once through a specially made continuous still and in most cases, a traditionally constructed Alembic Armagnaçaise; a portable wood-fired still designed to be transported to the small farms who produce Armagnac.

Unlike most spirits, makers of Armagnac don’t take cuts throughout distillation retaining volatile elements that are usually removed, giving the spirit more character and complexity. Rougher at first, a young Armagnac tastes of fire and earth. But after ageing in French oak, often for decades, the spirit is tamed and softened, becoming marvellously nuanced.

Finishing in former French Bas Armagnac barrels has softly rounded Craigellachie’s weighty style with warming notes of baked apples, dusted with heady cinnamon. Rich flavours of caramel shortcake are offset by signature syrupy pineapples and fiery bonfire night aromas.

Craigellachie 13 Years Old Armagnac Cask, is bottled at 46% ABV and has a RRP of £52.99. The expression will initially be available in the UK, Germany and France from April, before being rolled out in the US and Taiwan later in the year.