Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd March 2016
Garnheath was a single grain whisky produced at the lowlands Moffat distillery between 1965 and its closure in 1986. The distillery also produced the single malts Glen Flagler, Killyloch and Islebrae. Killyloch stopped production in the 1970s and Islebrae was only used for blending and never bottled as single malt. Imagine if it was! It would cost a fortune because of its rarity. I can only assume that no casks still exist of Islebrae or someone would have bottled it by now.
94/100 in the Whisky Bible by Jim Murray classifies this single grain as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. The author says of the taste “wow! More than a hint of ginger here! Really a very warmed-up dram with spices holding the tiller and contrasting sublimely against the muscovado sugar and big butterscotch”. He summaries with “the rarest of the rare single grain – as though aware of its unique place in the lexicon of vanishing scotch – doesn’t disappoint for a moment.”
There are only 15 bottlings of Garnheath mentioned on Whiskybase, 6 from the 1960s, 8 from the 1970s and one from the distillery’s final year in 1986. 12 of the 15 are rated and none score less than 84.2/100, which is an excellent mark. The highest scoring bottle is a ‘Celebration of the Cask’ by Carn Mor, a 41yo from 1974, which is exactly the same year and age as my bottle by Douglas Laing.
Scoring a fantastic 87.5/100 on Whiskybase from 4 member votes, one taster leaves this summary “smooth, creamy and very appealing. Although 41 years of age, the influence of the wood is obvious but the oak isn’t overpowering at all. The spirit has extracted delicate toffee, vanilla and coconut flavours over time and is in perfect balance with subtle flavours of sandalwood and cedarwood coming from the oak. Don’t add water! A brilliant whisky experience – I very much enjoyed this beauty!”