Cragganmore is one of those speysiders that doesn’t really taste like a speysider. To me, it tastes more like a lowland (think Auchentoshan) than a speyside.
Nose: It has a very ‘Auchie 18yr’ nose, but only part of it. It doesn’t have all the complexities of the Auchentoshan, but it does the barley/caramel thing very well, but with a noticeable touch of ‘coastal saltiness’, similar to the Talisker 10. I think the barley/caramel combination I smell is actually American oak, but I can’t be sure. I know the Cragganmore 21 is American oak aged, but I can’t find info on the 12.
Palate: Sweet, barley and caramel. Reasonably oily. Here, it does the standard in-your-face portion of the Auchentoshan 18 flavour very well, but it has no complexity, depth or maturity. A great daily dram, in that respect, if it weren’t so expensive here in Ontario.
Finish: Medium. Sticks around about as long as the Glenfiddich 12 does.
The Cragganmore 12 wins points with me because I love the Auchentoshan 18. While it does what it does very well, at 40% ABV, it really suffers to get past the complexity level of the Glenlivet 12 or Glenfiddich 12. Being about $20-30 more per bottle in most markets, those watching their pocketbook can find better deals at this price-point or lower.