This year’s Special Releases from Diageo have finally been announced, and there is quite a line up ahead.
This is the eighteenth year of the Diageo Special Releases, having been started n 2001. The collection comes from a demand started by the brand’s Classic Malts releases, which always celebrated older and rarer expressions from six of Diageo’s distilleries.
Special Releases took this concept and ran with it. The collection has clearly become a fan favourite and people wait in anticipation every year for the new releases to be revealed, and 2019 did not disappoint.
Global Whisky Master at Diageo, Ewan Gunn,says, “Discerning drinkers around the world will delight in this new collection. From the hand selected Single Malt Scotch to the visually arresting bottles, they each tell a strong story of the extraordinary place and the people who have shaped each dram. These prestigious and limited-edition bottlings offer fans an opportunity to collect and explore some of our rarest stocks.”
The Line Up
Let’s take a closer look at the line up of Diageo’s Special Releases 2019. We’re going to dive into our three favourites and take a brief look at the remaining five.
Talisker 2002 15 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £110
Bottle cost: £110
This malt has been matured in newly charred American oak hogsheads and has that typical Talisker peat smoke flavour.
The nose begins with big seaside notes and lots of lovely earthy peat. It is full of the flavours you would expect from a Talisker but the 15 years I the barrel have given it a wonderful smoothness.
The palate is packed with iodine, seaweed, sweet notes of caramel and thick peat smoke. Dried fruits add a chewy mouth feel that complements the richness of the flavour. The peat allows the other flavours to shine, never overwhelming them. It has a slightly darker edge to it.
The finish bursts with smoke and oak wood. The caramel sweetness of the palate comes through quite nicely here as well.
Pittyvaich1989 29 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £330
Bottle cost: £330
If Pittyvaich doesn’t sound like a familiar distillery then don’t be alarmed. It was closed in 1993 and was only ever open for 19 years. Diageo have bottled two other Pittyvaich malts as part of the Special Releases collection, so they are pretty rare and at 29 Years Old, this malt is very exclsive.
It has been matured in Pedro Ximénezcasks before being transferred to oloroso sherry-seasoned casks. It is full of spice and sweetness with a lovely Speyside flavour profile.
The nose begins with big notes of butterscotch, caramel and cream. It is light an rich, with a wonderful sweetness to it. The texture is smooth and soft. Malted grains and oak wood also abound.
The palate is full of citrus fruits and a hint of Christmas cake. Raisins, apricots and lemons come through, adding a nice zest to the sweet notes. Apple pie, orchard flavours and burnt brown sugar make for a really dessert like body. The malted grains of the nose make a re-appearance and add a nice gentle note for the fruits to jump off from.
The finish is bold and lingers of oak wood and spice. It has a wonderfully warming end that focuses on the sherry qualities of the casks. The oak wood, dried fruits and cinnamon spice make for a perfect final note.
Bottle cost: £500
Another Special Release 2019 with an impressive age statement, this 30 Year Old from Dalwhinnie is very exciting. It has been matured in refill hogsheads and butts, giving it lots of oaky notes.
The nose starts us off with apples, pears and oak wood. It is rich and elegant. The fruits become soft and mellow with hints of dew covered grass, fresh cut hay and spice. There is a slightly darker note of leather in the background which only serves to enhance the delicate grassy tones.
The palate is brimming with earthy qualities. Floral notes appear alongside oak and orchard flavours. Apples, raisins and multiple grains combine to make a complex and intriguing dram. Hints of mint appear, with a spicy cinnamon backdrop.
The finish rounds off well, with more oak, cinnamon and apples. It has a lasting note of cream and oak that add a lovely dash of sweetness to the end.
Bottle cost: £120
Having been matured in amontillado sherry-seasoned hogsheads, this 14 Year Old is full of sweet sherry notes. Marzipan, biscuit, cinnamon and rich chocolate layer together to create a wonderfully rich malt. Ginger and cinnamon bring a lovely bit of spice in as well.
Bottle cost: £85
This 12 Year Old has a lovely note of peat throughout. It has been matured in refill American oak casks, giving it a nice sweetness. Butter and caramel with hints of oak, smoke and citrus make for wonderful malt. the peat adds nice earthy qualities, with some herbal notes and a hint of grass.
Bottle cost: £110
The most peated malt in this release, the Lagavulin 12 Year Old has been matured in refill American oak casks. It is full of seaside notes and smoke. The peat wafts throughout, joined by orchard fruits and liquorice. The heart of this dram is full of seawater and smoke, with big notes of spice and menthol.
Bottle cost: £1,500
The most expensive of the new Special Releases, this Mortlach 26 Year Old has been matured in toasted first-fill Pedro Ximénezcasks and finished in oloroso sherry-seasoned casks. The sherry really shines, with big flavours of cinnamon, fruit cake, orange peel and vanilla. It is sweet and slightly warming. There is a lovely malted note throughout.
Bottle cost: £130
This Highland malt has been matured in newly charred American oak hogsheads. It has lots of dark fruits, oak wood and cinnamon spice. the cinnamon is warming and well developed alongside dashes of mint of citrus.