29 January 2015

28/01/2015 Two rare and venerable grains

I need an empty container to make a sample, which means I have to empty one. A sorry excuse, but that will do.

Garnheath 40yo d.1969 (47.9%, HH The Clan Denny, Refill Hogshead, C#HH5538): not a common sight, these old Garnheaths. The distillery, in an industrial estate in Airdrie, is now still home to Inver House headquarters, though distilling activities there stopped in the mid-1980s. The same site produced a grain (Garnheath or Garneath) and three malts (the very rare Glenflagler, the extremely rare Killyloch and the never-bottled Islebrae). Nose: immediately, bakery scents flow in, with some tropical fruits too (coconut cream and mango peels). Blueberry muffin, cherry turnover (gosette aux cerises). The next thing to reach the nostrils is perfume, or colone, rather -- close to aftershave balm. Pine needles then abound, before it morphs into pure custard. Mesmerising nose. Mouth: the texture is oily, coating and sticky. Notes of clementines and Mandarine Napoléon shine, though custard quickly signals its presence once more. Hints of green pepper. Finish: a tender custard kiss with a reminder of clementines (semi-dried peels of clementines, really). Wonderful, wonderful Garnheath! 9/10

Dumbarton 45yo d.1965 (49.5%, HH The Clan Denny, Refill Hogshead, C#HH7001): another distillery with a split personality, Dumbarton was a grain plant with two sets of pot stills. One used to produce a malt called Inverleven, while another still (nicknamed Ugly Betty) produced a much, much rarer malt -- but hush! All of those were blending fodder for Ballantine's. I tried this one a couple of years ago, yet since one does not get to try Dumbarton every day, I am full of anticipation. Nose: this is all ginger bread and chewy biscuits (American-style cookies). Cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cardamom. Shortly thereafter, whiffs of tobacco off a pouch -- Golden Virginia tobacco. Engine oil is present too, which is unexpected. Mouth: satin-like texture, with slightly more kick than the Garnheath. The spices from the nose come back, with added black pepper and even a bit of smoke in the back. Finish: biscuit-making at its finest. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, muscovado sugar, that wee bit of smoke again, and dried fruit -- raisins, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, currants and charcoaled chestnut. Outstanding. 9/10 (thanks PS for the sample)

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