This is from a share of a bottle Chris bought (his review here) as the distillery was local to him although it closed in 1986. Garnheath was the name for the grain whisky produced in some coffey stills in the Moffat distillery, and was used as a cheap grain for blends. Very old grains are usually interesting as they’re often in tired casks so don’t take too much over the years, and Garnheath is a rare one anyway (I hadn’t heard of it before), so I was very interested to try this. Thanks Chris!
Nose - Big, deep, fruity and very grain. This reminds me massively of the Compass box Hedonism Quindecimus on the nose, with deeply sweet solvent, grape juice, buttered popcorn, wet wood varnish and apple sauce. This is a big, fruity, ancient grain in nose as well as age, with the wood being deep, old, but clean and still a bit meaty. A wonderful nose. With water, fresher, a touch of sandalwood, and just a little rosemary.
Body - Younger, more astringent and sharper with cooking apple and lolly sticks. Mouthfilling oils, seriously drinkable with a hint of mint toffee and menthol tobacco. A little spice but not offputting. Water removes a lot of the intensity on the delivery but the oils are more present. I'd keep it neat.
Finish - The intensity fades quickly but tannins linger - almost red-wine like - at the end with a touch of cough candy, and the full afterglow is very long - almost tobacco like at the end and there's actually some wine notes in it with water. A very long time in cask hasn't unsettled this whisky.
What's not good about it - Given the nose, the sharp delivery and relatively short finish is a little disappointing.
What's good about it - A truly fantastic nose - deep, balanced, but fresh fruit. This is the nose I always want from a grain. And while that delivery is at first surprising, it (so often is the case) quickly becomes compelling and the reason to return for another sip. And this is the other thing I want from a grain - some proper structure and a great cask (it was probably great once, who knows which fill this was). Now I'm starting to dream of the 41 year old blended whisky this might have become…