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JB Rare 70cl

Average score from 4 reviews and 17 ratings 80

JB Rare 70cl

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JB Rare 70cl

Excellent value blend that's readily available and great neat, on the rocks, or even as a mixer with cola. Light, slightly sweet, smoky and spicy. For the price it's hard to beat an everyday type of blend to keep around.


J&B Rare is comprised of 42 different whiskies. The website states that the malts come from the Speyside region (though I am sure there is some Islay in there somewhere). This mini, bottled in 2000, was imported to Turkey, of all places, and at 43%.

The colour is identical to the current 40% bottling - a bright, light gold. On the nose it is a little shy, but shows a similar profile of citrus, fruit and barley sugar - but with much more smoke! You would never have pegged this as J&B Rare - it's more like a Black & White, though not as complex. Again, water does little to the nose. Still pretty straightforward, but interesting.

On the palate, more body and depth, with berries, minty herbs, brine and a whiff of peat (not as much as on the nose). More malt than expected, especially when you add a few drops of water, which greatly improves it. Very nice.

The finish is medium length with lemon curd, light honey and a tiny amount of smoke. So we have three J&B Rares, imported to three different countries, at two different strengths. The 43% for Turkey is the winner here but really, they aren't all that different in style and basic profile. The current bottling (that we get in Ontario) is the weakest - too young and cheap-tasting. The 40% mini for the US is fuller bodied, while the 43% mini for Turkey is smokier and heavier. So, there you go. Here endeth the lesson.


I know the bottle indicated above says "70cl" but this is one of the minis I bought through Scotch Whisky Auctions. In fact, I have here two J&B Rare minis - one at 40% (this one) and one at 43%. I'm also tasting, side by side, a current bottle of J&B Rare (40%). So this should be interesting.

J&B stands for Justerini & Brooks, and is a very old blend indeed. The founding firm was established in 1749, then bought by Alfred Brooks in 1831 (I don't know who Justerini is.) They began blending in the 1880s and developed J&B Rare in the 1930s. The light, delicate whisky caught on with post-Prohibition Americans and became a huge success - and still is. By the 1970s they were selling 3 million cases a year, and today two bottles are sold worldwide every second. The brand is currently owned by Diageo.

The colour is an extremely light, pale gold. Maltier on the nose than I would have expected, with a complex interplay of fruits such as pears, apples, raspberries and lemon - lots of lemon. Very citrusy, but there is a savoury element here as well - definitely more body than the current bottling. There is the slightest hint of peat, and some mint. Water doesn't seem to do much here. Very pleasant.

On the palate, very well rounded - light but has character. Still fruity and citrusy but there is a slight bit of smoke and spice. Nice balance, especially with water, which adds some maltiness. Clean and refreshing.

The finish is light and crisp, and fairly short. What is in this mini (which I believe was made for the US market, though I don't know when) is clearly a different blend than what is bottled today. Though very much in the same category, it definitely has a bit more body and depth than what you get today, which is much younger, lighter and more spirity. Nothing to get too excited about, but very palatable.

Oh, Justerini was the Italian dude who moved to London and founded the company in 1749.


The reviewed bottle is of the J & B Rare US issue 75 cl bottle, at 43% ABV, rather than 40% ABV current standard UK issue.

Nose: Slight to moderate intensity, a little sweet, light lemon, a little peat, light salt, and a bit of leather. The nose is modest and somewhat subdued, but pleasant.

Taste: moderate peat and smoke, brine, some substantial sweet wine flavours not really in evidence on the nose, leather, but pleasantly so, and light to moderate lemon.

Finish: short to moderate length for the wine flavours; the peat,smoke,brine, leather and lemon last long. The finish is not as attractive as the delivery.

Balance: this blend has always worked for me. While it would be better for the wine flavours to continue long into the finish, nonetheless the overall effect is pleasant, though quite mild. This whisky is more nuanced than it at first appears. All of the elements are careful to be "not too much" and succeed-- at being an easy drinkable blend that is more subtle and interesting than it at first appears.

Thanks for taking the time on this bottle. I'm visiting the in-laws tonight and will be served a generous helping of J&B or Chivas Regal.

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