...and these casks were very appropriate. If you like Ardmore go for this release because it offers a comparable profile with the extra Cragganmore kick. This is a really nice surprise out of this year's special releases and I could quaff this any day at any time (by the way, this is dimensions better than last year's 8-years old Talisker which was hyped by some experts - but again, there is no accounting for taste). I ordered two more bottles...
The colour is pale gold and the nose offers exactly the Cragganmore profile that I like plus peat. It is very impressive on both grassy-floral-fruity malt and spicy-herbal wooden aromas in balance with the delicious peaty notes which remind me of my beloved Ardmore. Hey Diageo, did you here the bell ringing about your previous extremely wood-driven hence unbalanced releases? If so, kudos! There is still a lot of wood impact in this nose but it does not overpower everything else but rather backs and supports all other flavours (as it should be).
In a blind setting I would have guessed this is a delicious Ardmore (due to the peat) but it offers more interesting fruity-floral impressions than Ardmore does. This dram is greatly chewable and releases a lot more flavours this way: fruits, sugars, honeys, waxes, toffee and more. This is very complex for a 12-years old, again kudos! The peat is of the mainland type (no maritime impressions but a warming bonfire in the heather fields) and fits perfectly to all other flavours. You can flagellate me but I like this mix very much.
The initial mouthfeel is warming with some hot moments (58.4% abv) and a minor coating effect. The finish is of medium length and adds some tasty milk chocolatey notes which are completely unexpected but very welcomed. No distracting bitter or drying moments whatsoever. Water releases chalky-mineral aromas in the nose and turns the taste sweeter and smoother, hence more quaffable. I like this dram both neat and reduced but in doubt I prefer the raw power of the neat dram.