Cameronbridge grain distillery in ‘the Kingdom’ of Fife looks more like a factory than a traditional pagoda-roofed malt whisky distillery. It can however trace its roots back to 1824, when the Haig distillery was opened and was also the first distillery to use a column still to produce grain whisky, from 1826. In 1877 it was one of the six founding members of the Distillers Company, the roots of Diageo. Today Cameronbridge is the largest distillery in Scotland and can churn out up to 140,000,000 litres of grain spirit. It produces both single grain whisky and grain neutral spirit (GNS) for use in everything from Smirnoff vodka to Archers Peach Schnapps. As far as I know Cameron Brig was the only (commercially available) core single grain bottling until the recent William Grant’s Girvan Patent Still launch. With Diageo recently announcing the launch of Haig Club it is unclear what the future holds for this expression so I thought I’d dig out my notes on Cameron Brig.
The colour is gold. A swirl of the glass reveals a light, watery consistency. The nose is light, biscuity and honey sweet (it would be interesting to know what proportion of the grain is constituted by barley). There are gently discernible wood notes of vanilla and cinammon. The palate is sweet like golden caster sugar and creamy toffee. It’s smooth, very smooth! Young spirit is evident but not initially harsh. The finish is respectably long, the sweetness turning to a light, woody alcoholic burn as the palate dries. It is mouth-wateringly moreish. With a drop of water the nose acquires just a hint of flowers or soap. The palate doesn’t benefit though, tasting a little washed out. Definitely best neat.
This is good value at c. £22 (70cl, 40%); it merits comparison with blends in the same price range such as BNJ. I think what distinguishes it is not a particularly pronounced character but rather the absence of flaws, which is rare in a whisky at this price. The perfect whisky for a hauf ‘n’ hauf, (i.e. with a half pint of ale as a ‘chaser’) or a summer evening dram.
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