"Teacher's material, this shows exemplary what good a bourbon cask can give to a spirit"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
Cameronbridge’s history involves two of the greatest and probably most controversial families in Scottish whisky, the Haig and the Stein. Coming from a long history of distilling, both families played an important role in the rise of the importance of column still produced spirit. John Haig, son of John Haig and Margareth Stein, founded Cameronbridge in 1824 and soon installed a patent still invented by his cousin Robert Stein, followed by multiple Coffey stills after the upgrade by Irish engineer and whisky tax collector Aeneas Coffey. Within 60 years John formed the alliance that would take over most of Scotlands whisky production, the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) that would ultimately merge into Diageo in 1997. During the legendary “What is whisky” court case in the early 20th century that would form Scotch (and Irish) whisky’s future, DCL convinced Scottish single malt distilleries to back them, and not the Irish pot still distillers, in their fight to acknowledge the right to include any percentage of column still spirit into blended whisky. Their obtained monopoly in whisky supply reserved them the possibility to control its prices and regulations until now. Nowadays Cameronbridge is the largest grain distillation plant with a production 110 million liters of alcohol per year, a prime supplier of David Beckham’s Haig.
Loaded with vanilla, coconut cream, and a mixture of cooked peach, orange, nectarine and mango spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamon. Sounds unlikely, smells great. The nose is unexpectedly balanced and I would even calls this very Irish-like. It is very much wood-driven, but the wood has really integrated into the spirit creating a much needed depth. Coconut chocolate bares (who does not know or remember Bounty), white chocolate sauce with macadamia nuts and polished old wooden chairs. Adding a small tea spoon of water leads to more balance, but also to less complexity. I get custard, milk chocolate, coconut rasp, white pepper and spiced milk.
The spirit-y side reveals itself more on the palate. Initially numbing the tongue, but still it provides intense vanilla, coconut and white chocolate. It settles rather quickly and stays for a long mouth-coating experience. Some cardamon and white pepper provide an enticing spicy side. Again this could be some sort of Irish pot still whisky. But it isn’t. Fresh wood dominates on the mid-palate, but a light fruitiness (peaches, nectarines and tangerines) prevent complete dominance. Half a teaspoon of water dampens the intensity. Still I find vanilla, coconut, chocolate, spices and wood.
Admitting that I am not at home in the world of grain whisky, but I find this particular example quite good. What I like is that it shows exactly the (positive) influences of a bourbon cask without going too extreme on one side or another (too sweet, soo wood-spicy), in other words the balance is perfect. Well-chosen by the lovely people at van Wees. I even think bottlings like this are obligatory for whisky lovers to better understand which flavours of an aged spirit actually come from the bourbon cask.
This sample was part of organised by Whisky4all!
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •