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KWM 2022 Whisky Calendar Day 8: Boutique-y Cameronbridge - Batch 3 - 27 Year

Posted on December 8, 2022

BONUS CONTENT: Read Andrew's write-up on our oldest-ever GlenDronach KWM Cask here!

by Evan

We have two days of young whisky in a row now. Shall we dive into something a little older for a change? Crack open Door Number Eight on your 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar to reveal a 27-Year-Old Single Grain Scotch Whisky from Cameronbridge Distillery, bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company!

Calgary, Alberta seems to be a market dominated by Single Malt Scotch. I may be embellishing a little. Also, I am likely suffering from a cognitive bias based on working at a place that built part of its reputation with that category... What was my point again? Oh, right. If most of what you purchase and imbibe when it comes to Scotch Whisky is of the Single Malt style, you may be surprised to find out that Blended Scotch Whisky far outsells Single Malt Scotch Whisky globally. In fact, for every nine bottles of Blended Scotch sold in the world, only one bottle of Single Malt is sold.

Another illustration of this sales-wise: According to the 2023 edition of the Malt Whisky Yearbook, the is currently Glenlivet. The brand sold the equivalent of about 18 million bottles last year. Pretty impressive. Do you recall the mention in Day Three’s blog post of how many bottles of Johnnie Walker, the king of Blended Scotch, sells per year? Only about 230 million or so. Give or take.

Want to know why so many more bottles of Blended Scotch sell compared to Single Malt Scotch? Here is the secret:

The biggest effect on the bottle price beyond the age of the whisky used comes down to the style of whisky used: Single Malt Scotch is inefficient to make. It is an old-school, relatively labour and time-intensive production to make it. That is part of its charm and also part of what makes it so flavourful: It takes lots of time and lots of workers and lots of money to make a traditional-as-possible Single Malt Whisky. From steeping, drying, and hand turning the barley on a malting floor to extended, four day or more fermentation times, to long and painfully slow spirit runs with plenty of copper contact in the stills – and even then, you only collect a fraction of the output liquid to put into cask. Don’t even get me started on how long you need to age the damn spirit afterwards.

With Blended Scotch, however, you can cheat. Sure, you typically want and need Single Malt Scotch to make a Blended Scotch, but you don’t need to use a completely mature, old and dignified Single Malt for it. You can use more of the youthful and brash Single Malt Scotch to make up a bulk of the flavour and style of your whisky, with only top notes added by a small amount of the older stuff. You can also use bulk grain whisky to soften that brashness and youth (and soften the blow to your bottom line as a whisky producer) and stretch out and sweeten the flavour.

Grain whisky is much cheaper to produce compared to Single Malt Whisky. For one, you don’t have to rely solely on the current price of Barley. You can use Corn, Wheat, Rye, unmalted barley, or whatever grain is cheapest at the time of production if you aren’t fussy. You can also produce more Grain whisky, faster, and at a higher alcohol level compared to Single Malt Whisky by using a continuous still which can operate 24/7 versus the closed pot stills that you have to open up and clean out after a single malt run.

Sure, making Grain Whisky isn’t as romantic a notion as Single Malt Whisky is portrayed to be, but it sure is cost-effective in comparison. And necessary: We should be thanking people for buying those 9 cheaper bottles of Blended Scotch. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a bottle of Single Malt left for us to enjoy!

Anyhow, that is my long-winded way of saying that Cameronbridge is a distillery (nay – factory) that produces Single Grain Whisky. It was founded in 1824. The Cameronbridge Distillery is the largest distillery in the UK by volume, and it is owned by the gigantic spirits company known as Diageo. Yes, the same Diageo that makes Johnnie Walker. That, and other blends, is what most of Cameronbridge’s production is used for. It also ends up in a brand of Cologne hocked by Sir David Beckham Single Grain Whisky called Haig Club. Beyond whisky, the distillery also makes spirit used for Smirnoff Vodka, Gordons and Tanqueray Gins, and more.

Now that I have spent the entirety of this blog post slagging Blended Scotch and Grain Whisky, let me tell you what is good about Grains:

  1. A good Grain whisky is a lot less expensive to purchase than a good Single Malt Whisky.
  2. An old Grain whisky is a lot less expensive to purchase versus an old Single Malt Whisky.

If you have been watching the whisky shelves as attentively as I have over the past few years (and I understand it if you have not – after all – it isn’t your job), you may have noticed that every now and then an inexpensive 20, 30, 40, or even 50-plus-year-old Scotch hits the shelves. If it seems inexpensive, it is likely because it is a grain whisky. And that is okay. Grain whisky, when left alone in the cask to mature away for an epoch or so, can be fantastic. Because grain spirit tends to be lighter and more neutral than single malt spirit when it enters the cask, it takes on the flavour of the vessel it ages in remarkably well. While they are not Scotch Whiskies, the Canadian Club Series of 40-plus-year-oldies released over the past five years attest this fact confidently.

The Cameronbridge Single Grain Scotch before us today aged away for 27 years before being bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Let's crack it open and give it a try!

Boutique-y Cameronbridge - Batch 3 - 27 Year - 48.9%

Also available in 500ml bottles

Listen to Andrew and Dave Worthington of That Boutique-y Whisky Company talk about this dram here!

This Single Grain Scotch Whisky hails from Cameronbridge Distillery. At 29 years of age it was bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company at 48.9%.

Evan’s Tasting Note

Nose: Tzatziki with lots of dill and some mint, sunflower seeds, linseed oil, lemongrass, candied ginger, and shortbread cookies with icing.

Palate: Rich and zingy for a single grain with more candied ginger and lemongrass up front as well as pear juice, still-ripening banana, grapefruit slices with a dusting of sugar, macadamia nuts, and a honey glaze.

Finish: Sweet yet tangy with a slightly bitter note that is very quinine-esque.

Comment: This is a delightful single grain – in its late 20s yet still lively and fresh.

Well, I am two for two so far in enjoying the Boutique-y Whisky drams included in our Calendar for 2022. There couldn't possibly be more bottles form That Boutique-y Whisky company in the box, could there?

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This entry was posted in Whisky, Whisky Calendars, Independent Bottler, KWM Whisky Calendar 2022



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