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CRAIGDUFF also see Glen Keith

1 9 7 3   43.0 %                                                                                         
Aged 38 years
Speyside Single malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled on: 04/04/1973
Matured in a Refill Sherry Butt

A genuine rarity, during the 1970's Chivas Brothers produced a series of experimental whiskies  in order to find a peaty malt to match the qualities of Islay whisky.

Strathisla and Glen Keith distilleries underwent a programme of producing whisky from heavily peated malt. Craigduff came from Strathisla. After a few years the experiments were ended.

Rare Ayrshire 44 Years Old, Distilled 1974, Signatory 30th Anniversary (Signatory)


Scoring explained >
Craigduff 45 Years Old, Distilled 1973, Signatory 30th Anniversary (Signatory)
Single malt whisky
Fruity & Spicy
I never really detected peat in any Craigduff I tried, and it’s the same story here. Rather, there’s just bags of roasted nuts, dates, quince, fig jam and herbal medicinal balms. Some exotic teas, red fruits, wood spices and mirabelle. Superbly exotic, simmering and lush. A few cereal touches such as fruit muesli emerge with time. Goes on with lime peel, papaya and assorted dried exotic fruit chunks and banana chips. Superb.

No peat, but a wonderfully syrupy and plush texture. Tropical fruit in liquid satin form. Quince, Darjeeling tea, cocoa powder, white chocolate and the warmth of paprika. Treads a lovely balance between spice and grip from the wood and more ethereal and complex elements, such as dried herbs and exotic fruits from the distillate. Warming, soft, complex and extremely pleasurable.

Getting sootier, more mentholated, waxier and a bit more peppery with green pepper, vapour rub and chamomile.

Not sure what influence the peat really had here; perhaps it was more vivid in youth? Instead what remains is a beautifully structured, elegant and resilient old-school Speyside whisky. Lots of tropical inflections buoyed up by just the right nibble from the oak. The very definition of great older single malt and not at all tired or flabby.

Smuggling barrels of peaty water out of Stornoway at 3am, you toss a coin over to decide whether to head for Glen Keith or Strathisla..

from Peat and Whisky, The Unbreakable Bond by Mike Billet

In the 1970s experiments were taking place to find new qays of enhancing the phenolic content of spirit, first and almost attemmpts to optimise kilning.

An other experiment fcused on the role of peaty water and as special at the peatlands on Lewis were the most active peat cutting areas are still in use by the people of Lewis.

And just here are the origins of Craigduff and Glenisla, who share the same owners and lie opposite banks ofthe river isla, where the new make spirit is piped from the stills
of Strathisla were it is produced to Glen Keith also owned by Seagram and later Pernod Ricard's Chivas Brothers.

Iain Henderson of Laphroaig's fame was here in charge of experiments to create an Islay style whiskt for the blends of a.o Chivas and 100 Pipers Blended whiskies.

Of course peated malt was used but also peat enriched water which came from an unusual water produced in a smoky plant on the shore of a Lewis loch: Loch Breugach
along the Arnish Moor peat fields, Local people to this day know the place as "the old Chivas Regal site"

This grounds of this project gifted in 1923 by the then owner Lord Leverhulm of Unilever fame, to the Stornoway Trust, this site was used in the 1970s for items of plant design to burn peat and pass it to piped it through water piped from Loch Breugach and than stored in drums  in green metal 45 ltr drums that were taken to Glen Keith were this peaty water was processed for there whisky.

On site were also concrete tanks and smaller tanks to store the pre process Loch water.

Iaian Uig, as he was called here, his original name was John MacDonald from Uig stayed here for a long time and after the little plant one room and a toilet,  was closed
got a job at the Stornoway Trust were he worked at the sawmill.

The peaty water produced here was very dark and oily and had a peat tar smell, not as pleasant as peat smoke.

Chivas tried an experimental run  at Gle Keith distillery but this was thought dangerous after a accident the whole experiment was site to Loch Breugach on Lewis.

Later on the Glencraig was used in the show piece Chivas Century of Malts a blended malt of 100 different whiskies in the 1990s.

Andrew Symington owner of Signatory: Lightly peated barley frrom Glen Keith maltings was used  in conjunction with controlled amounts of concentrated peated water being
added to each wash charge, peated water was brought in 45 gallons drums from Stornoway on fishing boats into the port of Buckie, this peated water was run through the
small still at Glen Keith which was couled to an angled condenser andater driven off to concentrate the peatiness in the remaining water: then gallons of the concentrate peated
water wasdded to each wash charge.

The first experiment at Glen Keith ended on 4 April 1973 and Signatory has bottled six Craigduff single cask whiskies from this spirit run ranging in age from 32 to 45 years old.

More than four years later on 7 Juy 1977 another experiment was successfully completed and the results bottled as Glenisla. To date Signatory have bottled it nine times as
a single malt coincidentaly the 34 year old was bottled on 11 November 2011.

Alan Winchester, then master distiller at Glenliver distillery: Glenisla was made at Glen Keith from the peaty water produced on Lewis, Craigduff was
made from peated malt which was puchased from a commercial maltster who received it from Glen Garioch distillery, when I went to Glen Keith in
th mid 1980s  we still had a stock of the peated water that was made by lighting a peat fire and pulling the smoke through a water tank to catch the
phenolic essence. It had a strong phenolic smell and if you got any on your hands , it were dispatched to New Zealand Wilson's distillery following its
acquisition by Seagram in 1981.
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