By Kurt Maitland
Old Rare Superior is Usquaebach’s flagship release. It’s quite a collection of adjectives, and where the brand started.
As the name says, this is an old brand, and named after the very Gaelic word that gave rise to “whisky,” “uisge beatha” meaning “water of life.” The blend represented dates back to the 1700’s and was trademarked in 1877. It has had several owners since then: Ross & Cameron, William Grigor & Sons, and Twelve Stone Flagons Ltd.
For a fair amount of time, it was out of circulation, but since 2005 Cobalt Brands has owned it and has been distributing Usquaebach worldwide.
Color: Reddish gold
Nose: Dried plums, some floral notes, stewed apples, pepper and toasted honey pecans with a firm overlay of sherry.
Taste: An interesting mix of sherry, dried apples, with an earthy, slightly bitter clove element mixed in. There is a lot going on in this 43% abv release. It is almost as if there is a tussle between the younger elements of this blend with the older components with this release, and it almost ages in your mouth. I feel like I am getting the younger parts of the blend at first contact, then the older whiskies in the middle going into the slightly floral but still spicy finish.
The body has a slightly oily viscous feel that dries quickly and has a long finish. With a splash of water, this release becomes less sweet, with hints of anise and the earthy element shifts to a nuttier flavor and the finish gets drier and even hotter.
The Old Rare Superior Blended Flagon has a long, hot peppery burst for a finish. It feels like here is where the older whiskies in the blend assert their dominance.
I enjoyed this dram. I don’t know that it would become my every day dram, due more to its price relative to the other expressions in the line, but it is certainly a release that I would pull out to share with my whisky nerd friends. It’s history in a glass and proof that the craft of blending whiskies is an art form that is a pleasure to behold.
This release ranges widely in the US, with prices between $99 and $140 coming up in searches.
“People’s Choice” Whisky of the Year, 2010 International Whisky Competition