Cameronbridge Distillery was founded by John Haig in 1824. Haig came from a family with whisky in their blood – his great, great, great grandfather Robert landed in trouble in 1751 for distilling whisky on a Sunday and his mother Margaret was a member of the Stein family who owned several distilleries in both Scotland and Ireland. John and three of his brothers became distillers and his sister, also Margaret, managed John Jameson, moved to Dublin and created the most succesful Irish Whiskey brand in the world.
Cameronbridge was the first and still the largest distillery in Scotland to make grain whisky. The transformation from traditional malt distillery begain in 1830 when a column (or continuous) still, designed by Irishman Aeneas Coffey, was installed. Here was a variety of still that unlike Pot Stills, allowed for continuous, instead of batch, production. Malt whisky continued to be made alongside Grain until 1929, by which time the distillery was under the ownership of the Distiller’s Company Ltd – later to become Diageo.
Cameronbridge remains much in demand, providing grain whisky for blends like Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bell’s, Black & White and Vat 69. The whisky made here also goes into the blue bottles of Diageo’s David Beckham-fronted ‘Haig Club’ brand and spirit is produced for products like Pimms, Smirnoff, Gordons and Tanqueray.
Diageo also bottle the whisky as a single grain under the Cameron Brig name, bottled at 40% and costing around £25.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 15.5 / 20. Creamy Vanilla and Cereal notes combine with Coconut, Honey and Shortbread for an appealing nose.
Taste: 15.5 / 20. Vanilla, Honey and Caramel predominantly, but with a little touch of Dried Fruit Sherry influence in the mix as well.
Value for Money: 8 / 10. On the market in the UK for around £25 and a decent quality product for that kind of money.
Overall: 39 / 50. There’s a little bit of a buzz about single grain whisky at the minute as more and more expressions hit the shelves, particularly amongst independent bottlers. Many of these have been matured for 20 years or more (I recently tried an exceptional Invergordon that had been matured for a whopping 50 years!) and can offer good value for money compared with single malts of similar age. While this Cameron Brig is by no means a premium whisky and certainly won’t carry anything like that age, it offers the curious sipper something a little bit different. Most whisky drinkers will have tried Blended Scotch and the Single Malts that contribute to them but Grain Whisky makes up the bulk of these blends and it is interesting to investigate what the Grain brings to the table in it’s own right. A good place to start that investigation, would be with this highly affordable and enjoyable Cameron Brig.