John Smith, the founder of Cragganmore Distillery, is said to have been the most experienced distiller of his day. He had been manager of Macallan, Glenlivet and Wishaw distilleries, and was lease holder of Glenfarclas distillery when he persuaded his landlord, Sir George Macpherson-Grant, to lease him the land to build a new distillery at Ballindalloch beside the Strathspey railway line, in 1869.
Cragganmore (the name of the hill behind the distillery, whose springs supply the water for production) was the first distillery to be deliberately sited to take advantage of railway transport, and a private siding was built on the Strathspey railway to accommodate distillery traffic. John Smith was a great railway enthusiast, but since he weighed 308 pounds (140kg) and was too wide to enter a railway carriage, he was obliged to travel in the guards van! He died in 1886, leaving the business to his son Gordon, who largely rebuilt the distillery in 1901.
In 1923, Gordon's widow sold the distillery to the Cragganmore Distillery Co. Ltd., a susidiary of White Horse Distillers Ltd. Now the licensed distillers are D & J McCallum Ltd. of Edinburgh who for many years exported Cragganmore mainly to Australia and New Zealand.
Cragganmore(r), from the heartland of malt whisky, is Speyside's coveted masterpiece.The river Spey flows quickly by the distillery, through forested hills and verdant valley scenery. From the smallest sip of Cragganmore flows the essence of the Highlands with a character as delicate as the mist that blankets the morning air.
Nose: rich, dryish and complex, fragrant and flowery, with notes of grass and smoke;
Body: medium, smooth and firm;
Palate: clean, round, malty and well-balanced;
Finish: lingering malt and soft smoke - a grand Speyside afterglow