Cameronbridge is a real monster in terms of the amount of whisky it produces, we’re talking about 140 million liters per year. This is ten times larger than Glenfiddich, which is the largest malt distillery.
This is the old Haig distillery (hence Diageo naming the single grain brand coming out of Cameronbridge ‘Haig Club’) which opend in 1824, but was producing grain in a Stein column still (built by John Haig’s cousin, Robert Stein) by 1830. Thus, Cameronbridge became the first distillery in the world to distill grain whisky commercially, after Stein’s own attempt at Kirkliston Distillery in 1828 failed. As part of Haig’s, it became part of DCL, and later Diageo, and is today the main grain producing distillery for the drinks giant, who also owns half of North British (as mentioned in my review of the 21 year old North British found here).
In addition to the 100 million liters of grain whisky used in Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bell’s, Black & White, Vat 69, Dimple/Pinch (Haig), Haig Club and White Horse, Cameronbridge produces 40 million liters of grain neutral spirit for Diageo’s liqueurs, gins and vodka.
Today’s tasting is of the 25 year old single cask Douglas Laing recently bottled at natural cask strength (60.6% ABV), as part of the new Old Particular Single Grain series just started. I will note that this is a 25 year old whisky was filled from a refill butt, so unless the angels were extremely greedy, only part of this butt actually got bottled in the 282 bottles in this expression, using only slightly under 200 liters:
Douglas Laing Old Particular Single Cask Grain Cameronbridge 25 Year Old, Distilled June 1990, Bottled June 2015, Cask DL10806, 282 Bottles From a Refill Butt (60.6% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Light gold, legs are very thin and slow forming, ending up leaving a residue of droplets on the glass.
Nose: Honey, grassy, some fresh green leaves, a fabric softener, faint note of apple cider, some paint thinner (typical corn spirit note), and a light spicy note. Water brings out a sharper alcoholic burn (strange, but true) and actually heightens the feinty and grassy notes in the glass. The honey is all but gone. Left covered to rest for a few minutes, it remains leafy and feinty with a whiff of vanilla and custard coming and going.
Palate: Feinty, with paint thinner or solvent melting into honey some faint spice. At 60.6% ABV, this whisky really isn’t intended for drinking without water. With water, it’s bitter and slightly drying, with a light fizz in it, rather like a cognac.
Linger: Before water the linger is quite feinty, leaving a taste that conjures up paint or acetone. With water, there’s some bitter citrus and spice on the palate, and some spice down the gullet. The linger isn’t short and after about 2-3 minutes hints of sweetness return on the finish.
Definitely one of the more complex drams of the quartet, yet I don’t think it’s the one I’d vote for as the best. I think that accolade would go to the Strathclyde (reviewed here).
All in all, the single cask grain project is an interesting extension of the Old Particular brand.
Official sample provided by Douglas Laing & Co.