It’s that time of year again… The exciting moment when Diageo launch their annual batch of special releases and you’re invited to go and taste them! For those of you who aren’t sure what these bottlings are about, they’re a set of rare whiskies released once a year, some of which are from lost distilleries. Exciting enough?
This year they have released nine limited edition whiskies featuring single grain and single malts, and the closed distillerries comprise The Cally 40 Year Old single grain, Brora 37 year old 1977 (the oldest Brora release to date), Pittyvaich 25 Year Old 1989 and Port Ellen 32 Year Old 1983. You’ll be glad to hear that we will be stocking all of this years Special Release bottlings, very shortly. Keep your eyes on our facebook or twitter feed for the drop.
So here’s the precious treasure! Diageo Special Releases 2015
The oldest ever bottling from the closed distillery Brora, matured in refill American oak hogsheads since 1977. Just 2,976 bottles were released worldwide.
Tasting Note for Brora 37 Year Old 1977 (2015 Special Release)
Nose: Immediate fresh-crisp smoky character, clean as a whistle. Citrus, elegant smoke, touch of caramel, nutty, chocolate too and a bit of cigar box.
Palate: Silky, smoky, boiled sweets, more caramel and chocolate.
Finish: The leather starts to come in, dry fruits, long, plenty peat across the end of the palate.
Overall: Highland single malt in style, these Brora bottlings are very special indeed. Everything you want from this style of whisky is right here, in the cleanest experience possible.
A serious single grain whisky from the closed Edinburgh distillery Caledonian. This was aged in American Oak hogsheads for 40 years! From 1974 to 2015. This is the oldest whisky released by the original distillers at “The Cally”. Just 5,060 bottles were released worldwide.
Tasting Note for The Cally 40 Year Old 1974 (2015 Special Release)
Nose: Melted caramel, dry fruits, mature oak, burn’t orange peel and rum and raisin.
Palate: Really fresh, brimming with vanilla, fruity, soft texture, not harsh at all, delicious creaminess.
Finish: Rough around the edge – in a good way, in fact a great way. Lots of honey, pastry, coffee and croissants. Amazing.
Overall: An ancient single grain whisky that you might think was overcooked – when you look at its age. But it isn’t in any way, shape, or form. It’s thrilling to see what an old grain whisky like this can achieve.
The tenth limited release from the Caol Ila distillery, and the first to be matured in American Oak ex-bourbon casks. These Unpeated single malts are getting older by the year, along with becoming more and more delightful to taste.
Tasting Note for Caol Ila 17 Year Old (2015 Special Release)
Nose: Salted butter, cheesecake, fresh vanilla pods, ice cream and more vanilla.
Palate: Punchy, lemon-y and a tank load of fruit.
Finish: Touch of black pepper and all spice. Yummy!
Overall: A quality cask strength Islay single malt that’s always out of the ordinary. Roll on the 18 year old next year!
A very interesting natural cask strength single malt from the Clynelish distillery. The whisky spent its time ageing in a combination of ex-bourbon first-fill American Oak barrels, rejuvenated and refill American Oak hogsheads, and ex-bodega & refill European Oak butts. And Breath… Just 2,946 bottles were released worldwide.
Tasting Note for the Clynelish Select Reserve (2015 Special Release)
Nose: lots of caramelised notes, toffee, sweet, salted caramel, toffee apple. Pretty stunning this.
Palate: sea spray, citrus, lemon cheesecake, creamy, chocolate sprinkles. Soft and buttery, very well-balanced.
Finish: The toffee-chocolate character flips to ripe fruits and a satisfying finish
Overall: Very diverse, which was interesting as it managed to clearly brake away from the other whiskies from the Special Releases.
Dailuaine was founded in 1852 in Speyside, and is rarely seen bottled under the official label. But right here we have the Diageo Special release, a 34 year old limited edition cask strength single malt aged in American oak casks. This is by far (a dozen in fact) the oldest bottling ever released by the original distillers at Dailuaine.
Tasting Note for Dailuaine 34 Year Old (2015 Special Release)
Nose: Fresh fruits, whiff of soft old style single malts. Gimme, Gimme!
Palate: Banana, immense spice, black pepper, ginger, milk chocolate.
Finish: More spice, touch of ceader, musty warehouse (I’ve never licked the walls of a warehouse full of ageing whisky by the way), coffee beans, spice lingers in the background.
Overall: An incredibly complex Speysider for sure, shame there’s less than 3,000 bottles out there.
25 year old Dalwhinnie bottled at natural cask strength, why not eh? This whisky was matured from 1989 to 2015 in refill American Oak hogsheads before it was released with an outturn of just 5,916 bottled worldwide.
Tasting Note for Dalwhinnie 25 Year Old 1989 (2015 Special Release)
Nose: Delicate, sweet fruits, malty chocolate-y, crisp and quite grassy.
Palate: Warm spice, plenty more fruit to come, cooked pears, a little drying but still smooth and buttery.
Finish: Medium, smooth, gentle fruits continue to bounce their way around the palate. A touch of menthol.
Overall: A stylish Dalwhinnie with plenty of age to it and great influence from the refill American Oak
Another stunner from Lagavulin, sweet, meaty and peaty, from refill American Oak casks. This marks the thirteenth release of the 12 year old from the distillery.
Tasting Note for Lagavulin 12 Year Old (2015 Special Release)
Nose: Smack of peat (that did the job!), peppery, a crisp incite of the fruity and peaty character this whisky offers.
Palate: Bold spice followed by plenty of fruits, it’s smooth, oily, salty and smoky!
Finish: The sweetness forms at this point, and the satisfaction begins.
Overall: A cracking cask strength Lagavulin, this ticks all the boxes.
Pittyvaich was closed in 1993 and later demolished, it lasted just 18 years on Speyside. So here’s a drop of history that once spent 25 years inside refill American Oak hogsheads and first fill ex-bourbon barrels.
Tasting Note for Pittyvaich 25 Year Old (2015 Special Release)
Nose: Fresh picked green apples, mango, delicate sweetness, cereal and banana skins.
Palate: Oily, fruity, slightly herbal, just a pinch of saltiness.
Finish: A brush of honey, frothy apple skins, slightly bitter.
Overall: A great fruity and punchy single malt Scotch, more than enough character to please.
Not only is this the last whisky to talk about but I actually tasted this last, a nice end to the finish me thought! Who wouldn’t agree? The fifteenth release in the series of Port Ellen’s from the Special Releases, distilled in 1983 (which was the last year of production at the distillery on Islay) and matured in refill European Oak butts. Just 2,964 bottles were filled.
Tasting Note for Port Ellen 32 Year Old 1983 – 15th Release (2015 Special Release)
Nose: Pungent peat like no other, citrus, caramalised orange peel, dark chocolate, a smidge of roasted coffee.
Palate: Peaty, smoky, sweet, leathery, jammy, sherry sweetness.
Finish: More citrus, wood smoke, touch of sherried spice.
Overall: Always the most sought after release from the annual series. Give me a bottle of this and stick me on the beech next to Port Ellen any day of the week. Even when the midges are about!