It’s already Christmas Eve, and behind the twenty-fourth and last window of That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s 2019 Advent Calendar we reviewed each day since the 1st of December was hidden a Cambus 28yo batch 11 single grain, bottled at 47% abv by that Boutique-y Whisky Company. Cambus was among the first distilleries in Scotland to convert to grain whisky production. In 1806, John Moubray converted a old derelict mill to a pot still distillery. He began production in 1823 after he gained title to the ground, with possibly an early Coffee still or something similar. John’s son, James took over, and when James’s son Robert succeeded to his father, he installed a bigger grain still in 1851 and eventually made Cambus one of the largest grain distilleries in Scotland. Under his management, Cambus became a founder member of DCL in 1877. Cambus expended, and thanks to its size and strong position in DCL, survived most of the storms that beset the industry in the early 20th century, until a disaster stuck on the 24 September 1914, a fire broke out in the maltings and grain stored and engulfed most of the distillery. Only the bonded warehouses survived, but the distillery closed until 1938. Despite extensions and new apparatus, the distillery closed in 1993 as grain production was concentrated at Cameron Bridge. Cambus still stands though, and is used as a cask-filling centre and for bonded warehousing. The outturn of this 28yo batch 11 was 435 bottles, and it’s still available on Master of Malt for £114.95.
Coldorak: Very sweet nose making me think about corn whisky. Cinnamon and vanilla on the early nose, then apples, spices I have trouble to determine and brown sugar. I couldn’t discern much changes after reduction, maybe it even made the nose a wee bit shier.
Ainulindalë: Bookbinding glue and old leather first and foremost. This starts off as a very christmasy dram indeed. Behind this leather, soft spices, ginger, cinnamon, the whole Christmas cake shebang. Small oak notes and a sweet background.
Coldorak: Very sweet and a bit sirupy mouthfeel, the palate starts on caramel, toffee, unripe peaches, chilli pepper and citrus fruits. Milk chocolate on the back palate. The ABV seems higher than what it is by the warmth of this dram. Reduction does not change much the palate but still gives a feeling of freshness.
Ainulindalë: It starts off with dates, prunes, and leather, goes through tobbaco then starts building up heat to an apex of ginger, cinnamon and chili pepper, smoothly blended together.
Coldorak: The finish is medium on milk chocolate and coffee.
Ainulindalë: The finish is looooooong, all on pepper and caramel, going smoothly down the throat and heating it up warmly.
Coldorak: A nice dram but I’m not sure it was worthy of being the last. I know that whisky advent calendar tend to put their oldest sample behind the last window and that every palate is different, but I’m a bit underwhelmed by this dram. I mean it’s good but it’s not great. That’s more often than not the problem with grain even when older than a single malt by a decade, and this one didn’t deliver on par with my expectations. It’s still good, don’t misunderstand me, but I thought the Ben Nevis 21yo behind the 23rd window to be better by a mile.
Ainulindalë: I was afraid at first considering this is a single grain – but ho-ho-ho lo and behold, this is indeed a very good dram for Christmas, both to lift up the spirits and get into the holiday season!
* The Catbus is a character in the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Sorry for this horrible pun.