Whisky names and terms can be confusing. In an attempt to make them attractive and differentiate one from another, marketers can leave you scratching your head trying to figure out what the name or term means.
Take Small Batch as an example. It is a term meant to convey that only a select set of barrels were used in the blend. In reality, small batch has no definition whatsoever. It can be a batch of one barrel or a batch of thousands. Full Proof is another. Some may walk away with the notion that it is the undiluted contents in the bottle. Nope, it doesn’t have to be, and, in some instances, it is diluted to the original barrel entry proof before bottling. Then there are terms like Special Reserve or Limited Edition. They sound incredibly… well… special and limited, but they are just words with no legalese behind them.
Yet another market-speak word is Rare. To most people, rare means it is in limited supply or difficult to find. Some brands have the word in it, splashed in big, beautiful script. While the brand in question can be challenging to find at times, its name precludes the current market conditions.
What about Extremely Rare?
There are a handful of Scotch distilleries in the whisky universe that I fully expect what’s in the bottle to be very good. Why? Because they have a long, proven track record with me. That shouldn’t imply that something mediocre doesn’t come out here and there because nearly every distillery does. I still #DrinkCurious, and nobody gets a pass, but it sets in a particular bias. The Glenmorangie is one such distillery. I’ve been a fan of the Highland distillery almost as long as I’ve been drinking Scotch. There are very, very few duds.
One of Glenmorangie’s regular releases is an 18-year-old whisky called Extremely Rare. Good or bad, the name implies this one is almost a unicorn. Except, it isn’t. It is simply the name of its 18-year Scotch. Extremely Rare is a single malt Scotch, run through Glenmorangie’s taled very tall giraffe stills, then aged in former Bourbon barrels for 15 years. Then, about 30% of that 15-year whisky is transferred to former Oloroso Sherry butts for another three years, while the remainder of the 15 continues to age. At the end of 18 or so years, both parts are blended into a final product, then packaged at 43% ABV (86°).
Extremely Rare may make you think you’ll have to fork over a fortune, but it can be had for $110.00 at some larger liquor outlets.
Is Extremely Rare any good? Let’s find out.
Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, this Scotch was the color of golden straw. A medium-heavy rim formed a wavy curtain of tears that raced down the wall.
Nose: Sweet nectarines blasted me in the face. Honey, apples, golden raisins, and vanilla followed. Not to be left out, almond, toasted oak, and citrus followed. When the vapor entered my mouth, apricot rolled across my tongue.
Palate: A medium-bodied, oily texture coated every crevice of my mouth. The front of my palate discovered golden raisin, apricot, and honey, while the middle offered flavors of almond, vanilla, and orange peel. I tasted mildly-charred oak, walnut, toffee, and a touch of lemon on the back.
Finish: Charred oak, lemon peel, toffee, and apricot remained for a medium-to-long finish.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Glenmorangie 18 Extremely Rare is a hell of a nice pour. No one flavor dominated; instead, they melded together as if designed that way. I'd want the finish to be drawn out longer if I had to come up with something – anything – to nitpick at. For $110.00 or so, it is reasonably priced and well worth the investment. Buy yourself a Bottle; you won’t regret it, rare or not. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.