Review: Diageo Special Releases 2016

Diageo Special Releases 2016Diageo Special Releases 2016

Lucky old me, I got invited to join the press launch of the Diageo Special Releases 2016 this year, up in that there London.

It’s a great event that has been happening over the last 15 years, showcasing some of the less well known distilleries in Diageo’s portfolio.

So.. here’s my hastily typed notes whilst mingling with fellow bloggers  on the night…

cambus 40yoCambus 1975 40yo – 52.7% abv

A rich, nice oily palate, full of fruit, vanilla and citrus. Very fresh ending. Doesn’t seem like it’s age, other than its smoothness which gives it away. Awesome stuff, right up my street. I’m a big Invergordon fan, and this has a very similar profile (if that helps you decide if you’d like it or not!).

1,812 Bottles. £740.


glenkinchie 24yoGlenkinchie 1991 24yo 57.2% abv

There’s a beautiful old oak wood nose; dunnage style wood followed by sweet bark backdrop. A little hot on the palate with a reasonable pinch of spices which then fade into more gentle barley sweetness. Barley sweet to end. Lots of people really loved this dram. For me, maybe a little too spicy.

5,928 Bottles £295.

auchroisk 25yoAuchroisk 1990 25yo. 51.2% abv

Smooth buttery cream, sweet green fruits, grapefruit integrated with winter fruits and custard. More of the same on the palate, thick, oily and winter warming. Slight tannin on a long ending. Cute dram.

3,954 Bottles, £275.


cragganmore nasCragganmore (NAS) 55.7% abv

Deep and slightly earthy, autumn fruits and a suggestion of burning embers. Jaffa cakes. Thick and oily on the palate, easy going. Orange jelly (from the Jaffa cakes). Long finish with that earthy grunt, cask char maybe. Very enjoyable, I really liked this dram, but I don’t understand the price.

4,932 BOTTLES. £395.

linkwood 37yoLinkwood 1978 37yo 50.3% abv

Lovely citrusy nose, light and bright. Fairly oily on your palate, a little hotter than expected but soon calms. Little pinch of spice and lots of citrus lemon. The finish is fairly long, quite tannin lead and therefore quite dry. Light, but dry. It’s from my birth year so I wanted to love it more than I did.

6,114 Bottles £590.

Mannochmore 25yoMannochmore 1990 25yo 53.4% abv

I’d rate this as a Medium Sherry bomb, lovely stuff. A nose packed with autumn air, fruits mushed down. Bags of newly opened sweeties. Smooth and oily, creamy custard, plenty of sweet fruits. Easy on the spices, which is good. Long lingering ending to a very good whisky. There’s something fresh about it too.

3,954 Bottles £245.

Caol Ila 15yoCaol Ila 2000 15yo 61.5% abv

Strong barley malted buttery fun. Thick buttery malt on the tongue too, slight heat spikes but in a good way. Very slightly metallic, with just a hint of farmyard. Very warming finish, long, slightly salty. Unpeated Caol Ila fans will be really happy with this. Not quite the dram for me mind you (I prefer peat in my Caol Ila).


brora 38yoBrora 1977 38yo 48.6% abv

Leathery lightly peated goodness. There’s still malt on the nose after all these years, along with lemons and coal. Extra smooth on the palate with mouth watering peated sweetness, coal and a slight citrus character. Long easy finish, slight tannin and spice left on your tongue. Excellent. More please!

2,984 Bottles £1,425.

port ellen 37yoPort Ellen 1978 37yo 55.2% abv

The nose is big and excellent; in the Brora/Port Ellen-off then this just pips it, and that’s coming from a Brora fan! Light leathery peat. Thick in your mouth, properly warming embers on your tongue, not hot, but nicely warming. Lovely balanced citrus comes through followed by gentle sweetness before it starts to break down a little. The finish is very gentle, but long. Very evocative whisky, absolutely one that shines out.

2,940 BOTTLES. £2,450

lagavulin 12yoLagavulin 12yo 57.7% abv

I always love a good Lagavulin, and this is no exception. If you’ve had previous years 12 year olds, then this isn’t overly different. Strong, thick and oily, with those rich coastal tarry Lagavulin peat notes coming through nicely. A long warming, slightly sweet finish.


Overall Thoughts? Discounting the Brora and Port Ellen (oh how I wish I could afford either, or both of them), which are very obviously excellent, then my two favourites of the evening were the Cambus (but not at that price) and the Mannochmore. The Cragganmore was also noteworthy for me, but not at that price.

Thanks to Diageo, especially Nick Morgan for the invite.

Comments or questions? Why not come and find me on twitter @steveprentice.


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