The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 50 of 164

13-2265BW THE COLLECTOR'S CORNER Dream Drams b THIS YEAR'S DIAGEO SPECIAL RELEASES ARE STUNNERS by Anthony Dias Blue E very year, Diageo, the owner of 30 distilleries in Scotland, likes to show off . . . just a little. They release a group of very special single malts from their top properties. Most of these are well-aged and some even come from the dwindling stocks of defunct distilleries. This year, seven magnificent hand-crafted malts make up the Special Releases. All were bottled in 2012 and are at natural cask strength. The numbers of bottles available are not large (there are only 1,566 bottles of the 35 Year Old Brora, for example) and the prices are as intense as the whiskies. Nevertheless, these exquisite bottlings offer the whisky lover a unique and, most likely, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here are my tasting notes. (Actually, there is an eighth malt, a 35-year-old Talisker, but you'll have to fly to London to score a bottle—it's not available in the U.S. Its price is the same as for the Port Ellen below.) Auchroisk 30 Year Old ($359) The malt from this relatively young (1974) distillery has been known as the Singleton. Medium amber in color with a generous, fruity nose; rich and luscious with ripe figs and nuts; sugar cookies and spice; chocolate and licorice on the finish; a lovely expression. 109.4 proof. 95 Brora 35 Year Old ($624) This distillery was opened in 1819 and closed in 1983; only small stocks remain. Golden amber color; nose of lemon drops, honey, light smoke with butterscotch; luscious with tropical fruit and soft spices; ginger and apple; long, elegant and smooth with lovely balance. 96.2 proof. 96 Caol Ila 14 Year Old, Unpeated Style ($103) Founded in 1846, this distillery was the sleeper among Islay producers until it was "discovered" in recent years. Smooth and creamy with intense heat and lovely notes of malt, spice, honey and vanilla; pure and lush, some briny notes but without the typical overlay of smoky peat; elegant and seamless. 118.6 proof. 92 Dalwhinnie 25 Year Old ($289) Founded in 1897, this distillery is one of the highest in Scotland. A honeycomb nose mixes with heather; smooth, sweet and showing tea and vanilla with soft spices; rich and oaky with hints of herbs; certainly the subtlest of the seven. 104.2 proof. 92 Lagavulin 12 Year Old Limited Edition ($111) Started in 1816, Lagavulin is the most aggressive and idiosyncratic of Islay malts. Very pale gold color; smoky and showing intense peatiness and sea brine; burnt match with a touch of salt; long and rich with a seaweed and citrus aftertaste; quite exciting and exotic. 112.2 proof. 94 Lagavulin 21 Year Old Limited Edition ($624) Deep amber color; smoke, on the nose: aged saddle leather, soft fruit, "damp country churches"; very smooth, even at natural strength; fleshy, rich and full-bodied but long-aging has tamed its aggressiveness; notes of nuts, wood and butter with charred oak and smoke; seamless, with fruitcake on the finish; an amazing experience. 104 proof. 98 Port Ellen 32 Year Old ($936) Established in 1825 on Islay, rebuilt in 1967, closed permanently in 1983. Deep golden color; light smoke, heather, fruit and bready notes on the nose; smooth and sweet with chocolate and smoke; shortbread and herbs with creamy texture; notes of cinnamon redhots on the finish; thoroughly involving. 105 proof. 97 CREDIT: PHOTO COURTESY OF DIAGEO 50  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2013

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - April 2013