Diageo Special Releases 2023 – Spirited Xchange Review

If you’re familiar with whisky, or indeed, pretty much any kind of alcoholic drink for that matter, chances are you’ll have enjoyed a beverage associated with Diageo in some way.

Diageo Plc are an alcoholic beverage company based in the UK, who are a major distributer of spirits, particularly Scotch whisky. In fact, distilleries which are owned by Diageo produce around 40% of all Scotch here in the UK. With more than 24 brands, including Johnnie Walker, Old Parr, and J&B, we’re very familiar with their work here at Great Drams. We’re also big fans.

Put simply, Diageo are a drinks giant, and are responsible for some truly special beverages. Now, what really gets me excited about Diageo is the fact that each year they bring out a series of special releases. These are ultra-rare and super-premium whiskies that true Scotch lovers, such as myself, can’t get enough of.

Last year for 2023, they released a number of very special Scotch whiskies. Below I’ll be reviewing a few of my favourites from that selection.

Diageo Special Releases 2023 ‘Spirited Xchange’

Each year, there’s a special day that I look forward to. No, it’s not my birthday, nor is it Christmas, it’s the day that Diageo announces their annual special release.

Consisting of eight rare and collectible single malts, it’s a special day for any whisky lover.

2023 saw their ‘Spirited Xchange’ collection. Created by Master Blender Dr Stuart Morrison, along with the rest of his award-winning team of experts, this release was created to celebrate unity and cultural collaboration.

With whiskies inspired by different countries around the globe, the collection fuses together different whiskies from different casks and showcases different techniques and finishes to represent different cultures.

Now, the entire collection featured 8 bottles. In this review, I’m only going to be looking at 4. Specifically, my favourite 4 expressions. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the other 4, in fact, I had a bit of a nightmare deciding which 4 to go with. It’s simply down to the fact that the 4 I’ve chosen are the ones I enjoyed the most.

The entire collection consists of: 

  • Mortlach ‘The Katana’s Edge’
  • Lagavulin ‘The Ink of Legends’
  • Talisker ‘The Wild Explorador’
  • The Singleton ‘The Silken Gown’
  • Roseisle ‘The Origami Kite’
  • Glenkinchie ‘The Floral Treasure’
  • Oban ‘The Soul of Calypso’
  • Clynelish ‘The Jazz Crescendo’ 

Talisker ‘The Wild Explorador’

The first whisky from this release that I’m going to be reviewing is the stunning ‘The Wild Explorador’ from Talisker. 

This cask strength whisky encompasses strength and power. If like me, you love port, you’re going to love this dram. The Wild Explorador was finished in a combination of tawny, ruby, and white port casks before being bottled at an explosive 59.7% ABV. 

This pale golden straw whisky packs a punch and features a gorgeous blue label and box, complete with a nautical exploration theme. 

On the nose, you should immediately get plenty of smoke and sea breeze. Sniff again, and you’ll pick up more sea salty vibes, along with oak, berries, and a touch of streaky bacon. 

On the palate, things suddenly become very different. Immediately you should pick up plenty of fruity berry notes, combined with salted caramel, cherries, nutmeg and allspice, and a hint of vanilla. 

The finish is lengthy with plenty of smoke. This, however, is balanced beautifully by sweet raspberry jam notes combined with buttery pastry and baking spices. 

Photo Credit: Whisky Base

Clynelish ‘The Jazz Crescendo’

I absolutely loved this 10-year-old whisky. 

Created with American influences in mind, this whisky is smooth, bold, sweet, and has everything you could ever want from a Highland single malt.

Featuring a jazz themed label complete with autumnal colours, the whisky itself is not too dissimilar from the Talisker in terms of colour. Considering it was aged in American oak bourbon casks for a decade, it has a light hay colour reminiscent of summer. At 57.5% ABV, however, there’s plenty of burn. 

On the nose you should be able to pick up sour cherry sweets, sweet vanilla bean, pineapple rum upside-down cake, and a touch of citrus zest. 

On the palate, salted caramel is the dominant flavour, tied in beautifully with notes of milk chocolate. There’s also a peppery spiciness, with subtle notes of peaches and apricots. Some palates should also pick up the American oak, though it is very subtle. 

The finish is lengthy and is dominated by vanilla, spice, and a touch of evaporated milk. 

Photo Credit: Master or Malt

Glenkinchie ‘The Floral Treasure’

Glenkinchie’s ‘The Floral Treasure’ is a 27-year-old whisky inspired by the iconic and delicate porcelain of the great dynasties of China. Well, let’s just say, it’s absolutely phenomenal. 

Aged in a combination of refill European and American casks and butts for close to three decades, the whisky and packaging features a gorgeous, calming lavender design featuring a blue ceramic vase, flowers, butterflies, and pink blossom. 

This cask-strength whisky comes in at an impressive 58.3% ABV, yet it’s deceptively smooth. The walnut brown colour of the whisky itself looks just as inviting as its packaging. 

On the nose, that first sniff should reward you with a hint of ripe orchard fruits, tied together with vanilla ice cream and sugar almonds. There’s a hint of summer meadow freshness lingering in the background, begging to be discovered. 

On the palate, you should immediately pick up more fruity flavours with a hint of lemon peel, toffee apples, a suggestion of peat, and a touch of sweet American oak. 

The finish is medium and complex. Is it fruity? Is it woody? I personally would say both. It’s complex, yet its balanced wonderfully. Each sip seems to leave a different finish too. 

Photo Credit: Master or Malt

Roseisle ‘The Origami Kite’

Finally, last, but certainly not least, we have Roseisle ‘The Origami Kite’. 

Paying homage to the centuries-old craft of origami kite-making, you can expect Japanese influences in this whisky, and that is no bad thing. 

This is the Speyside distillery’s very first ever public release since opening way back in 2009. Try it, and you’ll agree that it was worth the wait! 

This 12-year-old single malt has been matured in a combination of first-fill and refill ex-bourbon casks. It has a gorgeous sunset yellow colour and an ABV of 56.5%. For a Speyside, you may worry that’s a little harsh, but try it, and those worries will soon be put to rest. 

On the nose, honey, almonds, and marzipan are immediately present. It almost smells like an aged mead. Inhale again, and vanilla should enter the party, along with mixed overripe summer berries for a fruity subtleness. 

On the palate sticky dates and molasses are the first flavours you should detect, closely followed by stewed summer berry compote, vanilla ice cream, Bakewell tart, and more honey. This is what you want from a Speyside!

The finish medium in length, and again, honey is the dominant flavour profile. There’s also a floral touch present, combined with almond oil and a hint of butterscotch. 

Photo Credit: Master or Malt

If you’re looking for a selection of rare, award-winning, limited-edition, delicious Scotch Whisky just like the ones listed above in this special release, be sure to head on over to our Greatdrams.com website and take a look at the huge selection of amazing drams we have available. 

Here you’ll find all manner of different whiskies, primarily Scotch, to suit all palates and budgets, that you can’t get on the high street or down at your local supermarket or off-licence.

Whether you’re looking for smooth and fruity Speyside, a peaty, smoky dram from Islay, a tart and fruity expression, or anything in between, here at Great Drams we’ve got everything you need, and plenty more besides.  

Tags: Diageo Special Releases 2023Spirited Xchange


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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