Cragganmore distillery

Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Cragganmore uses lightly peated malt, long fermentation, unusually shaped stills (see below) and worm tubs to produce a rich, meaty new make which adds a mix of citrus, spice and fruit as it matures. 

  • Region
  • Production type
    Single malt
  • Distillery Status

Cragganmore History

The story of Cragganmore is that of one of Scotch whisky’s greatest pioneers, John Smith. Some believe he was the illegitimate son of George Smith of Minmore and whether true or not is it undoubted cannot be doubted that he was an experienced distiller who had spent time managing The Glenlivet, Dailuaine, Macallan, Wishaw and, briefly, as leaseholder at neighbouring Glenfarclas.

He chose the riverside site at Ballindalloch in 1869 for a number of reasons: spring water for process, Spey water for cooling and perhaps most significantly because the Strathspey Railway was going to run virtually outside the distillery's front door. This would allow Smith to get casks and coal up from the Lowlands and ship his new make rapidly to the blending houses.

If location showed his skill as a businessman you only have to enter the stillhouse to see evidence of his talent as a distiller. The two wash stills are large but with very acutely-angled lyne arms which descend into worm tubs. The spirit stills are small with flat tops and a long, gently angled lyne arm sticking out of the side of the still. They too end up in worms. It is the latter pair – the only such type in Scotland – which help to generate the make’s complexity. Cragganmore was one of the few single malts to be classed as A1 by blenders.

Smith died in 1886 and his family ran the plant until 1923 when it was owned by a partnership of the Macpherson-Grants of Ballindalloch Estate and White Horse Distillers. While the White Horse half of the shareholding passed to DCL it wasn’t until 1965 that the Macpherson-Grants sold their shareholding. 

Today it is owned by Diageo and was one of the original ‘Classic Malts’ although its importance as a contributor to blends means that a significant percentage is still used for fillings. Strangely for such a complex malt it has never achieved the same status as some of its Speyside neighbours. Some put this down to the lack of volume available for single malt bottlings (even now it only has two regular expressions, a 12-year-old and a Distiller’s Edition finish), others feel that the label design is hard to read. Whatever the truth, it remains a somewhat hidden dram.


  • 1869 John Smith constructs the Cragganmore distillery at Ballindalloch
  • 1886 Smith dies, leaving his family to continue running the plant
  • 1901 The family enlist the help of renowned architect Charles Doig to modernise the distillery
  • 1917 Cragganmore closes for a year
  • 1923 The distillery is taken over by the Macpherson-Grants and White Horse Distillers
  • 1927 DCL acquires White Horse Distillers, and with it, 50% stake in Cragganmore
  • 1964 The number of stills is increased from two to four
  • 1965 The Macpherson-Grants sell their share in Cragganmore to DCL
  • 1988 United Distillers chooses Cragganmore as one of its Classic Malts
  • 2002 Cragganmore visitors' centre opens to the public

Cragganmore Facts

  • Condenser Type i
    Worm tub
  • Fermentation Time i
    Minimum 50hrs
  • Filling Strength i
  • Grist Weight (t) i
  • Heat Source i
  • Malt Specification i
    Lightly peated
  • Malt Supplier i
    Mainly in house
  • Mash Tun Type i
  • New-make Phenol Level i
    Lightly peaty
  • New-make Strength i
  • Spirit Still Charge (l) i
  • Spirit Still Shape i
    Ball flat top
  • Stills i
  • Wash Still Charge (l) i
  • Wash Still Shape i
    Lamp Glass
  • Washback Type i
  • Washbacks i
  • Water Source i
    Cragganmore Hill Spring
  • Wort Clarity i
  • Yeast Type i


Current owner

Previous owners


Cragganmore Distillery
AB37 9AB
United Kingdom
Visit Website
+44 1479 874715
Visitor Opening Hours
9.30am to 5pm (Apr-Oct)
9.30am to 5pm (Apr-Oct)
9.30am to 5pm (Apr-Oct)
9.30am to 5pm (Apr-Oct)
9.30am to 5pm (Apr-Oct)


See also

  • Auchroisk Auchroisk Auchroisk Distillery & brand


    One of Diageo’s ‘nutty-spicy’ sites.

  • Benrinnes Benrinnes Benrinnes Distillery & brand


    A highly individual Speyside whisky.

  • Blair Athol Blair Athol Blair Athol Distillery & brand

    Blair Athol

    The home of Bell's blended whisky.

  • Caol Ila Caol Ila Caol Ila Distillery & brand

    Caol Ila

    Islay distillery belonging to Diageo.

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