Another year, another set of special releases from international liquor giant Diageo. Except, it’s not really just another year; it’s hundreds of years of toil and expertise, aged for, in some cases, an exceptionally long time, and then bottled into an incredibly rare 700mL receptacle, for purchase.
And given how much this initiative from the whisky behemoth has taken off, good luck getting your hands on one.
You’ll also like:
Diageo owns 28 distilleries all over Scotland, and, some thirty years ago, it was decided that instead of blending most of their malts, it would be a good idea to release some of the more special expressions as cask strength whiskies that displayed an exceptional example of the distillery, the ageing process and the terroir.
Now, Diageo’s annual ‘Special Release’ stock is like a religious holiday for whisky enthusiasts the world over. Eagerly anticipated, mysterious and elusive, what the company decides to make public each year is the source of much speculation, discussion and, eventually, celebration.
This year sees the oldest ever release from crowd favourite Caol Ila–aged 35 years–, an incredibly refined (and, at 48 years of age, old) grain whisky from Carsebridge, as well as some seldom seen rarities from smaller producers such as Inchgower and The Singleton.
Fans of popular distilleries Talisker, Oban and Lagavulin will be pleased with interesting expressions released at 8 years, 21 years and 12 years respectively, while the second Caol Ila release from the collection, a 15-year-old unpeated whisky, offers a very different take on the beloved Islay liquid.
“The launch of the Diageo Special Releases Collection is an incredibly special time of year for Scotch Whisky and has become one of the most highly anticipated launches on the whisky calendar,” says Simon McGoram, National Whisky Ambassador for Diageo.
“Many of the releases within the collection are extremely rare and some are from ‘ghost’ distilleries, making this one of the few chances for both knowledgeable whisky fans and those wanting to explore the flavours of Scotch to own and discover an exceptional collection.”
Ghost whiskies are those from distilleries which have closed down, leaving behind a collection of barrels that Diageo ages, with finite amounts of liquid released at its discretion.
And though it was once fanatics of tasting oddities, rarities and any whisky in general who once drove the market, nowadays, whisky has proved itself as a fine investment, making these releases all the more special for those with enough self-control to stash a bottle or two away for a few years.
“We’ve seen the demand for rare and unique Single Malt Scotch Whisky bottlings increase exponentially over the past decade which is why we’re so excited about making this range accessible to everyone. The collection is priced to suit a variety of budgets, so there really is a whisky for all to savour, invest in, collect, or gift”, adds McGoram.
In addition to the exciting news of this release, to celebrate the launch, Australians are invited to try and win the rare collection by deciphering clues and unlocking a three-pin code which will secure the highly-sought after collection upon a grand pedestal on Thursday 14 March, 8am to 5pm, at Customs House in Sydney’s Circular Quay.
A world-first for Diageo this presents a unique opportunity for knowledgeable whisky fans and Scotch Whisky novices alike to win the full Collection of rare and precious Scotch Whiskies, worth over AUD$5,000. A set of clues will be released throughout the day at 8am, 10am, midday and 3pm at Customs House, Sydney, to participants attempting to decipher the code.
See below for a full list of offerings from the 2019 Diageo Special Releases Collection.
Caol Ila Unpeated 15 year old
Islay, 59.1%–Deep gold: mild nose, with the fruity sharpness of green apples and orange zest. Dense, firm and mild at first with a sweet, minty – salty taste, then a freezing heat and a long and warming finish.
Caol Ila 35 year old
Islay, 58.1%–Antique gold colour, floral and fruity on a fresh-clean, smoky base. Cooling and fluid, with a smooth texture. Starts sweetly and soon dries, with a rising peaty pungency and a spicy-sweet finish.
Carsebridge 48 year old
Lowlands, 43.2%–A deep gold colour with the delicate, light and balanced nose of a very old grain, then a rich texture, voluptuous mouthfeel and a big, soft, sweet, then gently spicy taste. Long finish.
Coastal, 57.1%–Full gold, with a series of coastal aromas that a dash of water brings together superbly; the palate and finish are equally flawless. A whisky that is the very essence of a coastal malt.
Inchgower 27 year old
Speyside, 55.3%–Full yellow gold, a complex and surprising malt from a little known yet historic distillery that has retained the distillery character well; nutty and spicy, it is vivacious for its twenty-seven years.
Lagavulin 12 year old
Islay, 57.8%–A vast palette of aromas and flavours awaits, wherever you look on the nose and the palate. Sweet, oily, and salty, then vinegar-dry and drying.
Oban 21 year old
Highlands, 57.9%–Dramatic, brooding and compressed, the nose spans a whole range of senses as it shows malt, fruit, oak, peat and sea- air. The taste is intense and sweet, with some saltiness.
Pittyvaich 28 year old
Speyside, 52.1%–It takes time to appreciate the full impact of this appetisingly pithy, charred, occasionally sweet Pittyvaich, which is at one and the same time straightforward, yet also full- flavoured and forceful, with
a long finish and a late, drying, bracing quality.
The Singleton Glen Ord 14 year old
Highlands, 57.6%–A classic The Singleton Glen Ord with heightened signature aromas of baked apple and sweet orange fruit, beeswax and spice. Smooth and sumptuous too, on a palate rich in mature fruit notes.
Talisker 8 year old
Island, 59.4%–Detailed at natural strength, this fine Talisker is smooth, lengthy, integrated and precisely balanced throughout, with a sweet and youthful assuredness.
You’ll also like: