Rare Malts Selection bottles are increasingly rare to come across, and getting to taste any one of them is a treat. The last Rare Malts Selections bottling was over a decade ago, and thus I myself missed out on the good times of buying them in the mid 1990s through early 2000s, and have only tasted a handful out of the 36 distilleries and 80 different expressions in the series (counting only age and vintage, not bottling size – 20, 70 or 75 cl – nor slight ABV variations between them, as many of them exhibit).
Teaninich is one of the least bottled distilleries in all of Scotland, especially given its size. 1992 saw a 10 year old Flora and Fauna bottled, and a single cask was released in the Manager’s Choice series in 2009. Other than those two bottles, three RMS releases were made in 1996 (1972, 23 years old), 1997 (1973, 23 year old – reviewed below) and 2000 (1972, 27 year old). This is rather strange, as the distillery produces almost 10 million liters of alcohol, the 8th largest in Scotland. In the 1970s, though, when this whisky was distilled, it was almost atop the list with a capacity of six million liters.
In 2013 Diageo announced plans to build a super distillery on the Teaninich grounds, with a 14 million liter capacity, like Roseisle. In late 2014, though, faced with slower scotch sales, Diageo postponed implementation of this plan.
It’s the only distillery that uses a mash filter as opposed to a mash tun to create the wart. Not being a technical person, I learned that it creates a very clean and clear malt, removing any and all remains of the grains, which enables Teaninich to create, after a very long 75 hour fermentation, the wort it needs for it’s pretty green and rather oily whisky, which is a critical ingredient of several of the Johnnie Walker blends. If you’re as curious as I am, you can watch a video made by the manufacturer of the filter (Meura) on how it works, but if you’re as non technical as I – you won’t actually understand anything from it, and you’ll prefer to watch the following video, which explains the process, as opposed to the features of the filter….
This is a very consistent dram, giving a very congruent experience, and while definitely not one that will blow you away, it’s a very good dram.
Rare Malts Selection Teaninich 1973, 23 Year Old (57.1% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, quick legs and a nice necklace.
Nose: Sour honey, bit of fresh leaves and flowers, dry and dusty. White pepper. Water brings out some fresh light fruity notes.
Palate: Honey and light spice with some vegetal notes. Dusty with white pepper. Water brings out more pepper.
Linger: spice in back of palate, a somewhat waxy dryness and green leaves on the palate in a rather long linger. Water makes it more spicy.
This one could easily into a Lowland, Speyside or Highland in a blind tasting, which is probably what makes it such a good blending malt. As you would expect, this is an excellent whisky – it had to have been to be made part of this series – it’s not as distinct as some of the other expressions in the series I’ve had.
Henrik, master of the RMS, shared this dram with me – Slainte, buddy!