Friends argue I’m always treating myself but that’s
what life is all about surely? Whisky is all about new experiences hence this
Garnheath release from the Carn Mor celebration of the cask range
bottled by Morrison & Mackay. When was the last time you laid eyes
on a release from this closed Lowland grain distillery? Exactly; not one
to miss out on.
whisky has never been that fashionable until recently despite the best
efforts of Mr Beckham to destroy any prospering signs with his
exceptionally poor Haig Club concept. Grain whisky is best enjoyed, when
what is essentially a very neutral spirit, after a prolonged period in
the cask. This can take 20, 30 years or even longer and often the casks
that are used by grain distilleries are refills or one stop away from
their final resting place in your local garden centre. Time is key and
that’s a feature the Haig Club lacks.
Garnheath was laid down in 1974 when I would have been a wee sprog and
oblivious to the incoming end of the whisky boom. The distillery was
only in existence for just 21 years falling victim to the fall in whisky
demand and sudden overproduction. Originally built on the site of an
old paper mill in 1965 by Inver House Distillers Group, this complex
also played host to 2 other very rare malt distilleries in the form of
Killyloch and Glenflagler. Before being demolished in 1986, the complex
was a huge statement of intent from the company with over 30 warehouses
and 3 distilleries. Essentially the company would have been able to
bottle single malts and use the output from the trio to support its
blends. Killyloch was closed in the 1970’s making it one of the rarest
distilleries before Glen Flagler closed in 1985.
course if you’re thinking of 3 separate distilleries, complete with
buildings on this Moffat complex then that would be the romantic vision.
Instead they were just a series of stills for the distillation of
spirit; a set for each distillery. Very little is known about these
distilleries generally and to add more confusion Islebrae was also
produced at this complex and like Killyloch was only in existence for
just 5 years. Islebrae was produced using the Killyloch stills and was
more heavily peated and I’ve yet to see a bottle.
It’s regrettable how much we’ve lost to history, especially as this was only 40
odd years ago. Some companies take care of their archives and
acknowledge the value this will bring for future generations. Others it
seems are more content to bulldoze and destroy; leaving us with the odd
picture or nugget of information. Truly some distilleries are more lost
Distilled: 14th February 1974
Bottled: 1st June 2015 (41 years old)
Strength: 50.8% abv
Additional: cask number 313235, non chill filtered
Colour: a runny honey, the sort in plastic bottles
Nose: lots of coconut flakes, almost synthetic in its presence like a Snowball with milk chocolate. Caramac, Milky bar; the real sweet end of the spectrum. Wood sap, maple syrup with a touch of spice, honeycomb, ginger beer and marizpan. With a drop of water its becomes more creamy and flashes of fruit loaf appear.
Taste: less detailed than the nose but has a rugged, if limited charm. Honey, banana, marzipan with lots of vanilla. The wood has been a strong influence here but there remains a balance. Strong, bitter dark chocolate with black pepper and tablet.
The first Garnheath I've tasted and it could well be the last. Moments like this don't come along very often. Time to reflect. This Carn Mor release is enjoyable and possesses a charm of its own unlike some wood driven grains today. I'd have never picked this out as being 41 years of age in all honesty. I'll just have to be content with releases from Cambus distillery (my favourite grain), speaking of which Cadenhead's are bottling one shortly...
Labels: 1974, 41 year old, carn mor, garnheath, grain, lowland, review, whisky