An Exceptionally Rare Find for Whisky Collectors
1974 Garnheath 44 Year Old “Old Particular” KL Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Grain Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($299.99)
“A superlative example of the merits of old grain whisky and worth every single penny.”
This is one of those rare bottlings that we simply can’t believe we got our hands on. Coming from the long-shuttered Garnheath distillery, this 44-year-old single grain is not only a slice of history, but also a shockingly delicious of bottle of Scotch. Garnheath, for a brief twenty-two-year stint, produced the grain component for Scotch Inver House Rare Blended Whisky. Unfortunately, the cost of the operation became too much and the distillery was closed in 1986. The remaining casks like this one knocked around Lowland warehouses for years, slowly being picked off by independent bottlers. When our spirits team tasted this cask, they knew immediately it belonged on our shelves. Smooth, sophisticated, and refined, it serves up sweet caramel, berries, chantilly cream, wood spice, and so much more. When it comes to old single grains, this is easily among the best we’ve encountered. Its smooth and supple approach is the icing on the cake. Only 139 bottles were produced, so it will be a lucky few who get to enjoy this treasure. The moral of the story, don’t delay on this divine single barrel.
Garnheath was the grain side of a short-lived but very large malt and grain whisky production complex in Airdrie that only operated for 22 years. Opened in 1964, Garnheath was one of the most efficient and promising distilleries in the Lowlands. It was situated in the old Moffat paper mill and produced the grain for Scotch Inver House Rare Blended Whisky. Unfortunately for lovers of fine grain whisky, Garnheath closed its doors to production in 1986 deep in a hole of debt. Today, just the blending and office facilities remain and with every bottle of Garnheath consumed there is one less drop in the world. Perhaps the most robust of this year’s single grain lineup, this 44 year old whisky sports a particularly full custard and cream driven profile. It’s very fresh given its age and carries a surprisingly spicy backbone.
David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: February 17, 2019
The special spirit that came off the column still at the Moffat distillery 44 years ago should have never managed to make its way to the shelves of a little shop in California. It was certainly supposed to be dumped for some mild blend or traded off stiffen up some Drambuie. But instead this weird little bird was shuffled around and eventually forgotten in the back of some Lowland warehouse. Perhaps it was acquired by our friend Fred Laing along with the great Scotch liquidation of the mid ’90s that saw the transfer of countless casks of rare closed distilleries to this small family owner—Ardbeg, Port Ellen, Cambus, Garnheath. We’ll never really know the journey this barrel took, but only what it brought here with it. A nose of pure powdered candy, vanilla extract, quince peels and ripe steamed hominy. The somewhat restrained elegant nose is nothing like the mossy funky style we saw on her sister casks last year and doesn’t prepare you for the rich, almost syrupy texture that invades the palate on entry. As the fabulous JP Robinson would say, “it’s baby’s bottom.” The definition of smooth, but it’s not some slight little thing. The absolute lack of burn lets it completely envelop the palate and draws out a host of odd fruits—jelly melon, loquat, dragon fruit, white raspberry. The finish moves slightly more savory, showing turbinado syrup, cake frosting, meringue, and white chocolate. It’s astonishing that this is just oak, spirit and time rather than some mysterious concoction of fruit and sugars. Dangerously easy considering the nearly 100 proof. A superlative example of the merits of old grain whisky and worth every single penny.
Jeffrey Jones | KL Staff Member | Review Date: February 25, 2019
This cask has aged beautifully and has the soft concentration of age but is still alive and fresh. It is sweet and easy with a nice soft fruitiness. There is a long mouth coating finish that is delicate and delicious.
Jackson Lee | KL Staff Member | Review Date: February 22, 2019
It’s not every day that I get to try a 44-year-old Scotch and I definitely appreciated and took my time with this in the glass. After spending that much time in a barrel, the normal alcohol note took a backseat and allowed more of the esters to come through. The nose was warm and inviting, giving off notes of candied dried plum, pencil shavings, baking chocolate and an underlying note of iodine. The taste was exceptional and dessert-esque; a soft texture yet with enough heat to liven up the palate. Notes of chocolate covered sweet cherries and strawberry angel food cake with whipped cream dominated my taste buds. The finish was ridiculously long and just as smooth. Soft notes of candy corn and ripe apricots ran to the finish line together while a sweet spearmint peaked towards the very end. If you haven’t had a Scotch with this kind of age on it, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal.
William Beare | KL Staff Member | Review Date: January 29, 2019
This feels like a significant cut above some of the other overaged single grain offerings that we have had of late. From the first passing waft, the nose carries loads of fleshy fruit, caramel, and ultra-creamy custard. I spent so long picking out different elements of the nose that I almost forgot to actually drink it. Well…OK…not really. Sweet toasted challah bread hit the palate with incredible delicacy and smoothness. It drinks like a dream from start to finish, and could go toe-to-toe with single malts for twice the price. There is a bit of wood on the finish, not overwhelming, but rather a pleasant old cigar box spice (clove and cedar).
Neal Fischer | KL Staff Member | Review Date: January 29, 2019
This single grain Scotch is so luscious and layered. On first smell, it seems like this Scotch is leaning toward armagnac territory. There are a lot of brandy qualities on display: from the woody notes that remind me of polished Limousin oak to the fruit-forward aspects. The glass bursts with fresh orchard fruits, especially apricot, cherry, and peach. The polished oak morphs into sandalwood, then gets herbaceous and a little medicinal. The palate is also quite fruit-focused adding flavors of a berry medley. Further sips reveal creamy vanilla and bready flavors. As it progresses, the whisky gets quite salty and spicy on through the finish. Is this a grain whisky or a fruit brandy? It’s jazz-fusion, and it’s as odd and magical as a Zappa record.
Andrew Whiteley | KL Staff Member | Review Date: January 23, 2019
Almost rum-like in its nose. It’s sweet and caramelly and smells like a bowl of fresh, ripe strawberries covered in heavy whipped cream. On the palate it’s got amazing spice and persistence. There is tons of fruit, but a peppery drive of wood spice as well. The finish is complex and lengthy jumping back and forth between cream, brioche, stone fruit in syrup, and allspice. This should sell out quickly as more and more people are understanding the pleasures and value of old single grain.