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.
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.
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
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