Whisky Tasting – Diageo’s ‘Special Releases’ Series 2012

It is early on Friday evening (26th October) and The Whisky Boys have invited Helen Stewart The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s UK Brand Manager to take part in this extra special tasting event. (she knows her cask strength single malts)

The eight Single Malts we are tasting are all limited editions being released this Autumn. All are at natural cask strength. All these drams will be available in specialist retailers in Northern Europe, selected Asian markets and in the USA.

Diageo is a British multinational company with its headquarters in London and is the worlds largest producer of spirits and a big player in the beer and wine market.

Diageo owns 40 plus Single Malt Distilleries Diageo, here are some of the well known Whisky brands that are theirs.

Scotch Whisky: Johnnie Walker, Buchanan’s, Cardhu, Justerini & Brooks (J&B), Bell’s, Black & White, White Horse, Logan, Caol Ila, Vat 69, Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, Glen Ord, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Clynelish, Singleton, Haig, Royal Lochnagar, Glen Elgin, Knockando, The Dimple Pinch

Table all set, so lets fill some glass’s.

The tastings:

Our first tonight is:-

Dalwhinnie – Distilled in 1987, 25 Year Old 52.1% Alc/vol.

Matured in rejuvenated American Oak Hogsheads.

Colour…Autumn oak leaf
…Honey porridge, tomato vines, lemon Lockets, damp cut grass, wet bark and the forest floor.
Taste…Hot cross buns studded with chilli’s and cloves, earthy but lightly fruited, cereal notes and freshness, honied and sugary.
Finish…Long, hot and lingering

Only 5,358 Bottles UK RRP £185.

Second dram is:-

Auchroisk – 30 Year Old 54.7% Alc/vol.

Matured in a mix of American and European refill casks filled in 1982.

Colour…Walnut oil
…Dry coffee granules, furniture polish, pine wood, Black Forest Gateaux and cream, dark cherries.
Taste…Light hints of peat/smoke, rubber bands, drying, bitter chocolate drops, crusty edge of a cinnamon loaf.
Finish…Medium, a little bitterness and very drying.

Only 2,976 Bottles UK RRP £230.00

Number three is :-

Brora – 35 Year Old 48.1% Alc/vol.

Matured in refill American Oak Casks.

Colour…Honeyed Seville
…Church candles, cloves, smoked ham joint, fried Parma ham, salted butter popcorn, oily, pear drops, light sherbet fizz.
Taste…Oily butter cream, apple strudel, nice light white pepper, Parma violets, light whiff of smoke, drying, dried tobacco.
Finish…Short to medium, smoke staying to the end.

Only 1,566 Bottles UK RRP £400.00

And four is:-

Caol Ila – 14 Year Old, Unpeated Style, 59.3% Alc/vol.

Matured in 1st fill ex-bodega European Oak Casks filled in 1997.

Colour…Honeyed pine
…Mist of sea salt, new spirit like, pears/emulsion, white wine, set honey, a fresh Winters night.
Taste…Still a little new spirit like, creamy but hot, no Islay character, fruit trifle, peaches and cream
Finish…Medium, mouth drying.

Only Limited Numbers Bottled UK RRP £66.00

Over half way, now for number five:-

Lagavulin – 12 Year Old, 56.1 % Alc/vol.

Matured in refill American Oak Casks each at least 12 Years Old.

Colour…Pale lemon juice
…Malty, Soured set honey, ice cream and kippers,smoked mussels, fishing boat’s engine room.
Taste…Bonfire in a rain shower, milk chocolate thins, praline, Cadbury’s fruit and nut.
Finish…Long and smoky.

Only in Limited Numbers Bottled UK RRP £71.00

Number six is next:-

Lagavulin – 21 Year Old, 52% Alc/vol. Distilled 1991, Bottled 2012.

Matured in 1st fill ex-sherry European Oak Casks.

Colour…Copper kettle
…Smokey coffee beans, dark chocolate, ham roast, smoky bacon crisps, prunes, fig rolls,refined leather, chamois.
Taste…Leathery, musky, oriental spices, filter coffee, softly smoky, masculine.
Finish…Short, lovely smoke lingering.

Only 2,772 Bottles UK RRP £350.00

Two to go, number seven is:-

Talisker – 35 Year Old, 54.6% Alc/vol, Distilled in 1977, Bottled in 2012.

Matured in American and European Oak refill casks.

Colour…Dried apricots
…Light sweet smoke, old lady perfume, Yardley, malty,
Taste…Crushed mixed and toasted nuts, sweet smoke from a freshly lit fire, a malty/rusk biscuit, oily, plump grapes.
Finish…Short to medium finish, lovely sweet smoke and maltiness lingering.

Only 3,090 Bottles UK RRP £525.00

Our final and eighth dram of the night:-

Port Ellen – 32 Year Old, 12th Release, 52.5 Alc/vol.

Matured in refill American and European Oak Casks, Filled in 1979.

Colour…Orange peel
…Botanicals, sweet perfume, citrus leaves, sweet leather, fragrant gin like, toasted butter pancakes, peppermint tea.
Taste…Drying like tonic, quinine, powdered coal, menthol tobacco, toothpaste fresh.
Finish…Fresh and quite long, menthol freshness coating the palate.

Only 2,964 Bottles UK RRP £600.00


A great night of some exceptional drams, for the collectors out there you will need to be quick as the numbers are very limited and there will be many Whisky lovers out there looking to increase the numbers in their cabinets.

Well done Diageo for a very varied and aged ‘Special Release’ series.

Remember that when a bottle of Port Ellen or Brora is opened and enjoyed it cannot be replaced.

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