Diageo’s Special Releases Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collections can take a little longer to make the long trip Down Under, but let us assure you, once they get here they’re more than worth the wait. This is something we were fortunate enough to put to the test recently as we were squirrelled away to a quiet bar in Sydney’s CBD and presented with the eight whiskies that make up the 2021 ‘Legends Untold’ collection.
Taking inspiration from ancient myths of supernatural beings that protect the remote heartlands where several of Scotland’s oldest distilleries can be found – hence the ‘Legends Untold’ moniker – the 2021 collection was hand-selected by master blender Dr Craig Wilson and pulls together whiskies from Lagavulin, Talisker, Mortlach, Oban, Glendullan, Royal Lochnagar and Cardhu.
According to Wilson, by pairing each whisky with a particular mythical creature, his goal was to better communicate what makes them special: “Taking inspiration from this year’s mythical creatures, we have revealed new depths of flavour and embraced the essence of each whisky’s unique profile, unveiling the legend it brings to life.”
Beyond the obvious quality of the whiskies themselves, this year also marks an evolution in how the collection is packaged, with Diageo recruiting renowned Melbourne-based digital illustrator Ken Taylor to create art across the collection. Taylor, who has previously collaborated with musical artists like Metallica and Florence and the Machine, has given the collection a striking look quite unlike anything you’d expect to find on your favourite whisky bottle, with beautiful depictions of the signature mythical creatures adorning every bottle.
The labels also push the envelope through their integration of augmented reality. Each bottle features a QR code that – when scanned with your smartphone – uses voiceover and animation to take you on a guided tour through the history of your whisky of choice, followed by a tasting guide. Not your typical approach to whisky drinking, but it’s one we wholeheartedly approve of.
The whole collection is cask-strength, so it comes with that little extra kick, and while there’s certainly a range of delicious flavours on offer, our particular favourites on the night were the Singleton of Glendullan 19-Year-Old and the Lagavulin 26-Year-Old. However, as you can no doubt imagine, with distilleries this prestigious there was not a single miss throughout our evening exploring the 2021 Special Releases.
According to Wilson, “The 2021 Special Releases Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection is just the very beginning of the story.” If that’s the case, we’re very much looking forward to the next chapter.
2021 Diageo Special Releases Full Collection
Casks: Refill American oak casks, finished in red wine casks
Royal Lochnagar 16-Year-Old
Cask: American Oak and European Oak refill casks
The Singleton of Glendullan 19-Year-Old
Cask: Refill American oak casks, finished in cognac casks
Region: Coastal Highland
Cask: Freshly charred American Oak casks
Cask: Virgin and refill American oak casks
Quantity: Limited quantities available
Region: Isle of Skye
Cask: Heavily peated refill casks
Cask: Refill American Oak casks
Cask: PX/Oloroso seasoned first fill casks
The 2021 Special Releases Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection will be available in limited quantities from selected independent bottle shops, as well as Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Vintage Cellars, Costco and Boozebud. If you’re unsure of where to start on your whisky journey, start with our Guide to Single Malt Scotch Whisky.