It’s that time of year when Diageo announce its 2015 Special Releases collection, and this year sees nine special whiskies hitting specialist retailers’ shelves.
Imbibe was given a special preview with a handful of other experts ahead of the wider press launch tomorrow… here’s our top drops from the class of 2015.
The Cally 40yo
One of the stand-out drams was a grain whisky. Hailing from the Caledonian, a distillery in Edinburgh that closed in 1988 and was renowned for producing sweet, buttery whisky, this release unsurprisingly has plenty of vanilla character. There’s a lovely oily mouthfeel, with bags of sweet notes of butter, toffee and cream soda before some spicy black pepper and clove flavours come into play. With fruity physalis and peaches in syrup, and a dark chocolate finish, there’s plenty going on here.
53.3% abv, £750, 5,097 bottles released worldwide
Distilled in 1989, this is a really unusual whisky - the nose belies the palate. It initially smells like tinned fruits, vanilla and cream, but while the first flavour is sweet toffee when tasting, this quickly gives way to a savoury sulphuric note, with some malt extract and sticky hop character before a savoury olive finish. It’s distinctive and unctuous.
49.9% abv, £250, max 6,000 bottles worldwide
Caol Ila Unpeated 17yo
Unusually for Caol Ila this is an unpeated whisky. Diageo had apparently wanted to call it ‘Highland style’, but were vetoed by the always open-minded Scotch Whisky Association. Tropical aromas of banana, toffee sauce, coconut and wood shavings hint at the soft sweetness of this whisky on the palate, with more coconut, salty sea breeze and hay before ‘you get the dying embers of the fire’, as Dr Nick Morgan, head of whisky outreach at Diageo, said.
55.9% abv, £90, ‘limited quantities available worldwide’
The rest of the Special Releases collection:
- Dailuaine 34yo (50.9% abv, £380, 3,000 bottles)
- Port Ellen 32yo (53.9% abv, £2,400, max 3,000 bottles)
- Lagavulin 12yo (56.8% abv, £80, ‘limited quantities’)
- Clynelish Select Reserve (56.1% abv, £550, max 3,000 bottles)
- Brora 37yo (50.4% abv, £1,300, max 3,000 bottles)
- Dalwhinnie 25yo (48.8% abv, £325, max 6,000 bottles)
Diageo, 020 8978 6000