Thanks to Tim W. for the sample. And thanks to /u/xreekinghavocx for the image.
For those who missed it (and frankly that’s okay) each year, around my birthday, I review what samples I have from 1982. Because that’s when I was born. Otherwise, it’d be a weird coincidence.
After taking a break due to social commitments I was told “not to be drunk at” and “again” or “the police would be called” because “no one needs to see your special tattoo” (whatever all that meant), I sat down at home to Birthday Dram #2, Cameronbridge SMWS G4.13 “Marvellous multifaceted”.
This 35-year-old single grain (see a pattern? Cause I’m not rich) was aged in refill ex-Bourbon hogsheads and bottled at cask strength, with no colouring or chill filtration.
Single grains and I have always had an odd relationship. I’ve probably been wrong about more of them than anything else, if we’re keeping track (and trust me, my depression is!) As my first ever Cameronbridge, I was excited to try it for my birthday.
Cameronbridge is the largest and oldest grain distillery in Europe. First whisky made in 1655, by some family called Haig. You see where that’s going, as eventually that family along with others went on to control 75% of the grain capacity in Scotland. Eventually, this partnership became DCL, and then Diageo. They also make Gordon’s, Tanqueray, and Smirnoff, as they are Diageo’s sole wholly-owned grain plant. For many years they even had their own brand, a Cameron Brig (review to eventually come oh lord I’m behind).
So let’s see what it tastes like, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Date Distilled: February 2nd, 1982
Cask Type: Refill ex-Bourbon hogshead
Outturn: 110 bottles
Colour: 2.5Y 7/8
Nose: Cotton, tahini, butterscotch, pollen/zucchini, corn
Initial soft, vegetal/floral notes. Seed like leads to butter and caramel. Water brings out more pollen and vegetal notes.
Typically single grain whiskies no longer have that vegetal aspect and more of the floral elements. This has kept quite a bit of it, however not in a rough dirty element, more of the whole flower kinda idea.
Taste: Icing sugar, cinnamon, lemon, pollen, mango, margarine
Ok, I rescind my earlier comment about roughness. This starts out with a rough sweetness. Nice mouthfeel, but I need to give it extra time to get more than just sugar.
Eventually, some false butter element comes out, more floral and lemon. Never thought I’d say it, but I’m missing out on mineral here to round it out. Or rather some acidity/bitter elements.
Finish: Dill, pollen, doughnut, wheat, alcohol, white cranberry
Wow. Never had something with dill and alcohol at this old or in a Scotch. Lots of side dishes at the end. It kinda works, but there are some rough elements.
Conclusion: Too many side parts, not enough main acts. I keep waiting for something to take over. Maybe the butterscotch in the nose, maybe the mango, and maybe the late-to-the-party white cranberry at the end. But nothing ever stands up.
So is this unique? Certainly. But is it something I want to reach for again? Not really. It never really started for me. It needed something. Certainly, they took what could have been vodka (if it went through more filters in the column) and made it into a lot of flavours.
Others may like this. It may work for you because you find all the flavours interesting, or maybe as something you drink while eating. I’m going to pass, and hope to try a different Cameronbridge in the future.
Scotch review #1046, Lowland review #43, Whisky Network review #1632