The Cragganmore distillery
It was more because of its proximity to a railway than the presence of a natural spring that led Cragganmore to be built on the site that it occupies today. The distillery is located on the grounds of Ballindalloch castle, home to the Macpherson-Grants and a wing of which is open to the public (don’t miss the very British afternoon tea!) Its founder John Smith was one of the most experienced distillers of his time.
Before he created Cragganmore, he was in charge of Glenfarclas, The Glenlivet and The Macallan. Passionate about the creation of this new invention - the railway - he had a track built that led to the distillery and enabled the transportation of coal and casks. John Smith was a man of great weight in every sense of the term. He had a strong personality coupled with a no less imposing size (21 stone). Due to his size he wasn’t able to ride in the passenger carriage and instead had to travel in the goods wagons!
Through successive takeovers and acquisitions, the distillery finally ended up in the hands of the Distillers Company Limited (which has since become Diageo) in 1965, when it increased its number of stills from two to four. Its spirit stills have an unusual shape: their flat lyne arms are bent into a T shape that increases reflux and encourages the appearance of fruity notes.
The use of traditional snake-shaped condensers contributes to the spirit’s richness and complexity. All of this likely explains why Cragganmore has always been considered a “Top Class” malt by blenders. If it hadn’t been chosen to represent the Speyside region in the famous Classic Malts range launched in 1988, would Cragganmore have found the prestigious place it occupies in the world of whisky today? It’s difficult to say, because this distillery is relatively remote and located right on the edge of the Whisky Trail that traces a route through the distilleries of Speyside.