Cambus is a grain distillery near Alloa, built in 1836 and operational until 1913, the year it caught fire. This caused the production to be halted for 23 years. In 1937 it was opened again, but United Distillers (now Diageo) closed it permanently in 1993.
Although it is quite rare to find 1970s Cambus today, independent bottler Hunter Laing bottled a 1975 single cask in 2015 and sold it for around € 250.
Today we’re trying a similar Cambus 1975 bottled as part of Diageo’s Special Releases 2016. Probably the first official release of Cambus?
Cambus 40 yo 1975
(52,7%, OB 2016, Special Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1812 btl.)
Nose: fairly gentle start, a little ethereal with eucalyptus and glue notes on a background of sweet fruit gums (pineapple and strawberry). Growing thicker. Dried coconut and green almonds. Plenty of minty notes. Oak dust and varnish. Something of caramelized white chocolate as well (delicious).
Mouth: oily, with the classic notes up front (vanilla, leather, coconut, maple syrup) but in a second wave also great tropical fruits. Mango, pink grapefruit, guava. Not unlike some old BenRiach or Irish whiskey – not that common in a grain whisky. A slight rummy note too. A little pepper and fruit tea towards the end.
Finish: medium long, on darker fruits (cassis), chocolate and lime.
This grain shows quite some complexity. It’s an excellent example of the classic profile, but in a particularly smooth way and showing some tropical extras. Very sumptuous. Around € 900, a price that feels rather steep. Perhaps Diageo felt it had to set a new benchmark for grain whiskies.