The Rare Malts Selection is a series of bottlings – started in 1995 – from Diageo’s past in which single malts were released from mostly closed or demolished distilleries. But the success was huge so the owners branched out to other distilleries as well. All malts were between 18 and 30 years old, distilled between 1969 and 1981. You can find releases of Aultmore, Benrinnes, Blair Athol, Brora, Cardhu, Millburn, Linkwood, Teaninich and many others. Thanks to the success of this series – which last appeared in 2000 – Diageo launched the yearly Special Editions. I will try the old Benromach from 1978 that was released at cask strength of 63.8% in 1998.
The nose is fairly old school with a clear sherry influence, but in first place mostly malty with some coconut and wood glue, blood oranges and cinnamon. Subtle smoke as well, must be from the cask. The fruit is of the dried variety, while there is also a touch of apricot marmalade and geraniums. Mildly rotting plants as well, but not disturbing. Wat surprises me – in a good way – is that you would absolutely not say that it’s a such a devilishly high ABV.
On the palate too it is very mild. Sure, you get a short prickle of alcohol, but that is quickly transformed into wonderful taste. Candy sweet pineapple, grapefruit, red apples and juicy pears. More European than tropical. Midpalate the ABV does rear its head with a somewhat drying note and woodsmoke (might as well be some peat, who’s to tell?). But it never becomes aggressive, even though it suddenty shows some astringent chili peppers. Grand.
The finish is pretty long, drying on old oak, nutmeg and tobacco. A touch of menthol at the death.
The nose was okay, but on the palate it reveals it wonderful nature. The finish, however, is the best part of this Benromach. Class!