Old Blends: Old Rarity 12

A few summers ago I posted a number of recipes for home-made jams. These were not popular with my whisky readership. Do you know what is even less popular with said whisky readership, or whatever remains of it? You guessed it: my reviews of blended whiskies released many decades ago. And interest in them goes down with each one I post, rather than the other way around. Accordingly, I am pleased to present this review of a rather obscure blend. Well, obscure to me. I believe this bottle was from the US market—though I doubt Old Rarity was only released in the US. The source of the sample estimates that the bottle might date from the 1960s. That is the extent of my non-knowledge about Old Rarity. I’ll add only that the name of this whisky suggests that the practices of adding the word “old” to things that aren’t very old and of suggesting things are rare by calling them things like “rarity” are obviously not innovations of our time. 

Old Rarity 12 (43%; from a bottle split)

Nose: Very farmy off the top with some putty and a big yeasty/bready hit. Some citrus under it all and some old coins. The farmy note burns off with time and the yeasty/bready note expands along with a big malty note and more of the sherry; a touch of peat here too now. Nuttier and saltier with water.

Palate: Less farmy and yeasty/bready here and more smoky. The sherry influence is clear. Again, very nice texture at 43%. Gets maltier as it sits but there’s also a sharper, more sulphurous note that emerges—not overwhelming; let’s hope it stays that way. Well, the sharpness recedes with time but there’s an astringent/bitter vegetal note that emerges to take its place. Let’s see what water does. Hmm no improvement with water.

Finish: Medium. The coins and orange are the main story here. More bitter here too with time. The astringent note hangs around longer with water.

Comments: This reminded me of the Hudson’s Bay. I liked the nose of this one better, but the palate was more challenging. People who enjoy yeasty and vegetal notes in whisky would likely disagree.

Rating: 80 points.


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