Diageo unveils rare whiskies for its 2016 Special Releases

diageo special releases whisky 1

Diageo has introduced 10 limited-edition whiskies, including expressions from closed distilleries and a grain whisky, in its 2016 Special Releases.

Featuring whiskies that have aged for up to 40 years, the latest selection represents an incredible variety of single malts and a single grain whisky from around Scotland, all bottled at cask strength. At retail, they are recommended for sale at prices from £80 up to £2,500.

The star of last night’s tasting event at One Marylebone in London was the 37-year-old from Port Ellen – an Islay distillery that closed in 1983 but continues to win awards for its limited releases.

With light smoke on the nose, the new Port Ellen whisky offers a combination of spice and herbaceous notes on the palate, heavy with wood smoke and hints of honey. It has 55.2% ABV and is recommended for sale at £2,500. Only 2,940 individually numbered bottles are available worldwide.

Also new is a 38-year-old Brora – the 15th in a series of limited releases and the oldest expression to date, with only 2,984 bottles available. It is from another closed distillery, Brora on the Sutherland coast.

Bottled at 48.6% ABV, the whisky is fresh on the nose, with light smoke and toffee. On the palate, it is relatively light for cask strength, with light spice and silkiness giving way to warming ginger and faint smokiness.

The oldest whisky in this year’s collection is the 40-year-old Cambus – a single grain whisky from the now-closed Cambus distillery near Alloa. Only 1,812 bottles are available, at 52.7% ABV.

It has notes of red apple and pineapple on the nose with a trace of nuttiness. On the palate, it offers flavours of raisins, ginger and peppery spice, with a sweetness that ends with soft notes of eucalyptus.

The only release this year without an age statement is the Cragganmore, a single malt from three cask types chosen for flavour alone – refill and rejuvenated American oak hogsheads and ex-bodega European oak butts.

Bottled at 55.7% ABV, the whisky has sweet, malty notes of orange zest on the nose. It has a smooth, sugary intensity on the palate, with savoury, cedar flavours and a fiery finish. Only 4,932 bottles are available.

The 37-year-old single malt from Linkwood, an operational distillery on Speyside, is only the second Special Release bottling, with 6,114 bottles available worldwide, at 50.3% ABV.

With fresh fruit notes on the nose, it is sweeter and smooth on the palate, with a touch of ginger and apple leading to a long peppery finish.

The 25-year-old Mannochmore is from a Speyside distillery that rarely releases whiskies for single malts. At 53.4% ABV, it has fruity aromas of orange and apple, with a smooth sweet character on the palate, with notes of orange peel and an oaky dryness.

The 25-year-old Auchroisk, from another active distillery on Speyside, is the third limited release after a 20- and 30-year-old. With notes of fresh fruit on the nose, it is light and smooth leading through to spicy fruit and a long warm finish. It is bottled at 51.2% ABV.

The 15-year-old Caol Ila is the 11th release from this active Islay distillery, with a recommended retail price of £90. Bottled at 61.5% ABV, it has fresh aromas of green apples and mint, with light, sweet notes of fruit, malt and toffee on the palate.

From the Glenkinchie distillery near Edinburgh comes a 24-year-old, bottled at 57.2% ABV. It is gentle on the nose, with notes of pineapple, orange and raisin, with a smooth texture on the palate that is spicy and woody with touches of ginger and a long herbaceous pepper finish.

Islay distillery Lagavulin has released a 12-year-old, bottled at 57.7% ABV, priced at £80 per bottle, with a 200th-anniversary commemorative label. With rich, peaty smokiness on the nose, it is smooth and light on the palate, with oiliness and honeyed sweetness, leading to a soft, smoky finish.

diageo special releases whisky 2

Previous Deltic continues major investment in late-night bars and clubs
Next Aliquam id imperdiet leo sed cursus mauris