[Review] Craigellachie - 10 years old Signatory Vintage 46% (L’Ambassade du Vin)

Being French, I tend to go back home a couple of times a year, which allows me of course to catch up with family and friends but also explore what French shops have to offer in terms of whisky. And like in England, I have seen the whisky scene develop (and the matching prices too!) in the last few years with more world whiskies, more bottles from less-known distilleries and more independent bottles. I have managed to pick up some French single malts, some cheaper bourbon and even some Macallan 18 years old from 1969. Most of these picks came from a couple of shop, one of which has just released (for the first time I think) a 10 year old single cask Craigellachie bottled by Signatory Vintage for them: L'Ambassade du Vin. And as I am lucky enough to have parents who enjoy and know a bit about whisky, I was greeted by a bottle last week when I made it home for Christmas.

L'Ambassade du Vin is located in the small town of Niort and from a few bottles of whisky stocked a few years ago, David and his team now have a comprehensive range on offer, and they are always keen to add to it. Prices are not always on the cheap side but that's probably because I am spoiled for choice in Manchester.

Now back to Craigellachie, a Speyside distillery I am not very familiar with. I tried the 13 and 17 a few years ago and probably one or two independent drams but I have never really spent a lot of time with any as I never owned a bottle myself. This is also my first encounter with Signatory Vintage. 

This bottle of Craigellachie comes from a single cask and is one of 156 bottles which tells me that it was probably only half a cask bottled for L'Ambassade du Vin. There is no mention of the type of cask either but with the pale gold colour and the taste I would said ex-bourbon hogshead. It was distilled on 23-06-2009 and bottled on 08-11-2019, unchillfiltered (my parents kept the bottle in the garage and it turned massively cloudy, great thing in my books!), natural colour and at 46%. The cask number is 306151/part (other clue telling me it was probably not the whole cask)

Nose: Sweet, fresh, citrus, apple, some orange blossom, a little malted barley and some cedar wood. A great start.

Palate: Creamy and sweet, I get some green/honeydew melon, a little spice/pepper notes, honey, vanilla and pine needles/sap. Not as meaty as I was anticipating considering Craigellachie is one of the rare distilleries to still use worm tubs in the production of their spirit, but delicious nonetheless!

Finish: Spicy with bitter notes, a little pepper again, some vanilla and barley sweetness and hints of smoke wrapping up the whole experience. That's a pretty good 10 year-old single malt!

With water: I did not have a lot of time to experiment with the whisky but adding a few drops of water, I got a creamier experience still with some bitterness but maybe a little less citrus. I also got more orange blossom on the finish. 

Overall, this indy Craigellachie was a very good little Christmas number. I am glad that smaller shops are trying new things and offering their customers something more unusual, more unique and I thank them for that. My only disappointment is that I could not bring the bottle back with me and will now have to wait until the summer to have another dram of it (if there is anything left in the bottle of course...!)


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