Cragganmore Distillery was founded in 1869 by John Smith, the son of George Smith who founded the Glenlivet Distillery. The word ‘cragganmore’ is Gaelic for ‘the great rock’, and in fact a large rock stands at the entrance to the distillery. John Smith who was a huge man is reputed to have ploughed up this very rock on his farm, personally moved it out of his way and supposedly found a large treasure buried underneath the rock in the process.
When John Smith founded Cragganmore he was by no means a newcomer in the industry; he had already worked at for example The Glenlivet, Macallan and Glenfarclas distilleries. With his knowledge of whisky making and of the surrounding countryside he found the perfect spot for his new distillery by the river Spey in Ballindalloch, close to where Spey meets the River Avon. As he built Cragganmore he also ordered a short stretch of railroad tracks to be laid down which connected his distillery to the Ballindalloch railway station. A few years later, Cragganmore was the first distillery ever to freight their whisky by rail.
After John died, the distillery was run for a time by John’s brother George, but John’s youngest son Gordon was soon appointed general manager. Gordon ran the distillery until 1923 when it was sold to a consortium which later became a partly owned subsidiary of the Distillery Company Ltd (DCL). DCL bought the remaining shares in 1968 and became the sole owner of Cragganmore. This was the last time Cragganmore itself was sold; it is through a series of mergers and acquisitions that Cragganmore has been brought into the care of Diageo, its current owner. Diageo was formed in 1997 through the merger between Guinness and Grand Met.
Cragganmore is promoted by Diageo in the Six Classic Malts series together with Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Oban and Talisker. The Six Classic Malts concept was created in 1989.
Production at Cragganmore
Cragganmore draw their water form the Craggan Burn. Their lightly smoked malt is brought from one of Diageo’s central malting facilities. Mashing is done in a modern lauter mash tun which was installed in 1997. The mash tun is made from stainless steel but has been fitted with a copper top and wooden side to look more ‘authentic’. The six washbacks are all made from European larch. The distillery has had four stills since 1967 when two additional stills were installed. The wash stills are lantern shaped and the spirit stills are of the boiling ball model. An unusual detail is that the top (lye-pipe) of each spirit still is flat or ‘T-shaped’ instead of having the more normal curved shape. This supposedly increases the reflux of condensed spirits into the heated liquid below and contributes to a milder, smoother whisky. The whisky is filled into bourbon casks which are stored in the three on site warehouses. Bottling is done in Leven, Fife three kilometres due east of Glenrothes.
Banffshire AB37 9AB
Cragganmore SignPhone: +44 (0) 1479 874700
Fax: +44 (0) 1479 874703
Distillery Manager: Mike Funn
Visitors: Visitors are welcome after advance booking between July-September, Monday-Friday. There are three guided tours every day. Admission is £8 of which £3 are refundable on purchase in the gift shop. The tour includes a video presentation, an extensive tour and a tasting session.