Cragganmore 1985 ‘Cask of Distinction’ (Wu Dram Clan)

Cragganmore 1985 ‘Cask of Distinction’ (Wu Dram Clan)

Wu Dram Clan has a good nose when it comes to whisky, and some of their highlights include their selections from Diageo’s Casks of Distinction series. After the Lagavulin 30 Years and Caol Ila 32 Years comes a 38 year old Cragganmore.

The distillery’s specific copper stills and the use of traditional worm tubs to cool the distillate give the whiskey a pleasant texture. Let’s dive right in.


Cragganmore 38 yo 1985 (45,3%, OB ‘Cask of Distinction’ for Hong Kong Whisky Fellows + Wu Dram Clan 2023, refill hogshead #601269, 174 btl.)

Nose: a round and seductive profile, with a prominent role for beeswax and light breakfast honey, almond milk and soft vanilla cake. Waxed paper. Hints of chamomile tea, a creamy maltiness and subtle guava. Then some pollen, drops of vegetal oil and a little lime peelings. The feeling of ‘old vanilla’ grows stronger over time. Total beauty.

Mouth: this lovely beehive-y character is here again, in full force. Stunning oozing waxy notes, paraffin and honey (acacia?). Then a cake-y sweetness, even a hint of pastel de nata. Back to resins, yellow jam and dried wildflowers – maybe potpourri like you get in 50+ year old malts sometimes. Just a hint of creamy chalk, somehow, with mango yoghurt.

Finish: long, back to light resinous notes, light syrupy notes, natural corn flakes, pollen and surprisingly mild oak spice.

The waxy and balmy texture is just perfect. The intangible fruity echoes too. You know, some of the nicest old malts I’ve had were not overtly fruity so it’s not a must. Overall this is a complex, inviting old malt. I thought I had one of the nicest Cragganmore releases in my own collection (the top-ranked 1973 Special Release) but this is better. Get in touch with the Wu Dram Clan or one of their retailers if you’re interested in a bottle.