12 years old, 1980s, ac/dc, american idol, cheap trick, classic malts of scotland, cragganmore, dalwhinnie, david lee roth, glenkinchie, grunge, iggy pop, jc penney, jennifer lopez, just say no, justin bieber, lagavulin, lutheran, michael jackson, milli vanilli, mullet, nancy reagan, nirvana, oban, parachute pants, pearl jam, pop culture, reo speedwagon, review, ronald reagan, sammy hagar, scotch, soundgarden, talisker, van halen, wake me up before you go go, wham, Whiskey, whisky
The 1980s, for all intents and purposes, should be wholly shunned. Besides Ronald Reagan, what did they give us? Parachute pants. Mullets. Jeweled gloves sold one at a time. Keyboard rock. (Hurrlllummmpph.) That was me throwing up in my ice bucket. Good thing my buddy Shawn bought me whisky “stones” for my birthday.
I was born in 1972, but I am officially a child of the 1980s. I can speak with authority when I say that so many things were popular, but few were so because they were actually worth our attention. I mean, c’mon. Wham? Wake me up before you go-go? I’m going to go-go find my “Back In Black” tape and let Angus comfort me during these dark times.
In 1988, when the United Distillers and Vintners decided to follow a popular culture-type scheme and market the “Classic Malts of Scotland” (of which there were six – Cragganmore being one of them), we were nearing the end of the decade and unbeknownst to most (except me, of course), we were about to see “pop” music go somewhat into hibernation so that we could be visited by a welcomed alternative. Yes, the pun was intended. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam. These guys saved us. They helped Americans resolve and forget Milli Vanilli and reminded us, somewhat, of the good stuff. We could hear “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” playing in their souls… at least until “Grunge” became an official style section in JC Penney catalogs. Once again, pop culture had claimed another victim. And then, without warning, the demon stirred to life again, tilling, cultivating, and harvesting the automaton-producing soil with souls of performers like Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, and “American Idol” contestants. Where’s my bucket? (Huurrrllmmpphh.)
Now, before I get too far into this rant and throw up again, let us ponder Cragganmore. Not necessarily a well-known whisky, it did have its day in the limelight. And I must say that for all that the 80s got wrong, Cragganmore is something the generation managed to choose with wisdom. When the rest of the world of alcohol was straying toward the siren call of pop-culture, devising useless candy waters like Zima, light beers, and wine coolers, the “Classic Malts” were a light in a dark place. When a consumer walked the aisles of the local IGA grocer in search of hope, Cragganmore, Lagavulin, Dalwhinnie, Talisker, Oban, and Glenkinchie (which if you’ve read my Glenkinchie reviews, you’d know that they probably should have dropped this one and just made it the “Five Classic Malts”) shone brightly.
The Cragganmore 12 year old edition, in particular, has a toughness to its nose. Next to a wine cooler or someone drinking a Zima, it may seem like an “Iron Maiden,” but by itself, it really is more of an early “AC/DC.” It sure ain’t “REO Speedwagon.” The scent is somewhat vegetal with a little sweetness.
The palate has a little bite, but sells itself as classy and smooth, carrying the sweet vegetal taste. It’s more of a David Lee Roth “Van Halen” than a Sammy Hagar edition.
The finish survives (but not like Gloria Gaynor). I thought it was a bit peppery and gruff. I don’t use pepper on anything, but this was okay. It’s more of a “The Who” than “The Rolling Stones.”
So what lesson have we learned today, class? As Nancy Reagan said so well, when it comes to the 80s, just say “no.” When it comes to the Cragganmore 12 year old edition, give thanks that the Scots didn’t lose their minds completely during the eighties and then just say “yes” to this whisky.