Diageo’s Special Releases 2016By Nicola Carruthers
Diageo has unveiled its much-anticipated annual collection of rare whiskies from across Scotland – including a 40-year-old Cambus and the oldest Port Ellen ever released.
Ten Scotch whiskies are to be released this autumn, in strictly limited quantities, as part of Diageo’s ongoing Special Releases programme.
This year’s oldest release in the range is Cambus 40 Year Old, described as ‘deceptively complex and fresh for its age’ from the Cambus distillery which closed in 1993.
The range also includes the Port Ellen 37 Year Old, the 16th appearance in the range and the oldest Port Ellen ever released at a price tag of £2,500, with just under 3,000 bottles available worldwide.
Two other releases this year include Brora 38 Year Old and Glenkinchie 24 Year Old, the oldest bottles ever released in the range from these distilleries.
Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo’s head of whisky outreach said: “The unveiling of the Special Releases range is a moment I look forward to year after year. The variety and quality of whiskies in the collection is simply fantastic, and once again we’re confident enthusiasts will discover new favourites in unusual and rare releases, such as the Mannochmore 25 Year Old, aged in rejuvenated casks and a smooth textured, complex whisky.”
Click through the following pages to discover the full range of Diageo’s Special Releases 2016.
Auchroisk 25 Year Old
Bottles available: 3,954
The Auchroisk 25 Year Old is a fruity apéritif malt made in American and European oak, which is “gloriously fresh and amber gold in appearance”.
Gloriously fresh and fruity, with a light body and good structure; the initially clean nose gives little hint of the spicy flavours of fruit that follow.
What they say: “Top notes of fresh, crisp, juicy fruit (orange peel, pear skin) are backed by fragrant almond oil. Later, leather and the merest suggestion of smoke. Water attractively increases the scented oil and brings up aniseed and fruit salad (tinned pears). Some late, faint smoke.”
Brora 38 Year Old
Region: Coastal Highland
Bottles available: 2,984
This 38-year-old is the oldest Brora bottled by Diageo as part of its Special Releases collection. Aged in refill American oak and European oak in 1977, the whisky was created at the closed Brora distillery on the Sutherland coast.
What they say: “Very easy to drink at natural strength: cool, smooth and slightly waxy, with lemon peel and rising wood ash above sweet, coating, caramel. Sweet and fragrant. Depth and complexity emerge together as lightly spicy smooth tannins and a minty, peaty pungency develop. Water silkily increases the well-balanced sweetness and seductive spice and adds a venerable air.”
Cambus 40 Year Old
Region: Central Lowland
Bottles available: 1,812
Cambus 40 Year Old is the oldest whisky in this year’s Special Releases range, described as “deceptively complex and fresh for its age” from the Cambus distillery, which closed in 1993.
What they say: “On the nose it’s surprisingly lively, quickly mellowing to sweetness. Clean, fruity top-notes of ripe red apples, pineapple and cape gooseberry rise above a wide-ranging, softly sweet melange of boiled and soft-chew strawberry sweets, shortcrust pastry and milk chocolate with smooth, succulent toffee.”
Caol Ila 15 Year Old
Bottles available: Limited quantities worldwide
Created at Islay distillery Coal Ila, the Coal Ila 15 Year Old is the first release in the series to have been distilled this side of the millennium. The new bottling is a pale straw colour and has “hints of smoke” on the palate.
What they say: “Challenging and perhaps too powerful to really appreciate at natural strength, yet essentially fresh, light and spirited, with a sweet taste overall. There’s cooling menthol, sharp fruit, then lots of malt and toffee. Much more accessible when reduced with water, the taste now soft, lightly sweet and succulent; the fruity sweetness balanced by salt and slightly sour (as with bitter lemons).”
Bottles available: 4,932
Made from refilled American hogshead, the Cragganmore No Age Statement has notes of “spiciness” from the hogshead and hints of rosebuds and sweet vanilla. The Cragganmore is a special vatting, described as “beautifully structured and contemplative” and is the sixth release of Cragganmore in the series.
What they say: “A smooth texture, with a sweet start; sugary and intense, with fragrant fondant in the mid-palate. Soon, becoming more drying; cedary and aromatic, although still unctuous. Slowly developing beautiful notes of cocoa and liquorice, then growing savoury, with porcini and a little salt.”
Glenkinchie 24 Year Old
Bottles available: 5,928
Glenkinchie 24 Year Old is one of the oldest bottles ever released in Special Releases from the distillery. The new bottling is “complex, heavy and dry to begin with” and has notes of “nutty brittle and rich fruits.”
What they say: “The nose opens to reveal clearly defined floral, fruit and cereal aromas that with water become more indulgent, while on the palate there’s complexity and a wonderfully drying, aromatic and bittersweet finish.”
Lagavulin 12 Year Old
Bottles available: Limited quantities worldwide
The collection also features Lagavulin 12 Year Old, this year as a commemorative edition for the 200th anniversary of the distillery in 2016.
What they say: “Wonderfully smoky, oily and bitter-sweet, pure in style and beautifully balanced with an inspiring sophistication and as much at home with food as after-dinner, being lighter in aroma and texture and less drying than recent expressions.”
Linkwood 37 Year Old
Bottles available: 6,114
The Linkwood 37 Year Old is rarely available as a single malt from the original distillers and is depicted as the epitome of Speyside ’finesse’.
The bottling, which was created in 1978, has “sweet vanilla notes” which are “fresh and pleasant on the nose”.
What they say: “Displaying typical fresh fruit and floral characters in its slow desire to be approachable, the nose yet gives no hint to the wonderful elegance and complexity evident on the palate and in the finish of this sophisticated malt.”
Mannochmore 25 Year Old
Bottles available: 3,954
The 25-year-old expression is aged in rejuvenated casks to make it a “smooth textured, complex whisky”. There are notes of vanilla, blackcurrant and “creamy richness coming from the European oak”.
What they say: “Smooth textured and coating, the taste starts hot and sweet, with suggestions of burnt orange peel, vanilla toffee and creamy coffee. Becoming fragrant and floral, as orange oil and Turkish delight appear, set against a charred and compelling burnt pastry bitterness and a rising oaky dryness.”
Port Ellen 37 Year Old
Bottles available: 2,940
The Special Releases collection includes the 16th appearance of Port Ellen. The 37-year-old will be the oldest Port Ellen ever released, aged in refilled American oaks and European oaks.
What they say: “Sophisticated and understated; dry overall, opening with distant, faint smoke, before a wave of familiar sweet and smoky notes, among which hints of hessian and warm wood are all that suggest great age.”