Review: Diageo Special Releases 2017

Diageo Special Releases 2017

It’s that time of year again where Diageo roll out their Special Releases and treat us with goodies that you might not normally find in their range.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend the launch event, and here are my brief thoughts of all the malts…

TeaninichTeaninich 17 year old
Distilled: 1999, ABV: 55.9%

Slightly sour, fairly woody, easy drinking with a good chest warmth on the finish. Reasonable amounts of vanilla. I seem to have trouble pronouncing it. Good whisky, and not one you see around too often.

CollectivumCollectivum XXVIII
Distilled: No-age-statement, ABV: 57.3%

This is a blend made up of all 28 of Diageo’s operational single malt distilleries. It’s slightly grassy and waxy; Clynelish shines through a fair bit out of all the 28, with a gentle smoky background. Time and a dash of water is needed. Slight floral notes and lots of grunt. A touch of liquorice maybe.

BroraBrora 34 year old
Distilled: 1982, ABV 51.9%

Gentle, but powerful smoke leading to a gloriously light palate. Plenty of summery ripe fruits, well balanced with grippy dry heathland peat. As ever, fantastic, and a slightly lighter palate than some previous releases. Very slow and enjoyable sipper with a lovely long finish. Awesome stuff, I love the summery lightness.

Port EllenPort Ellen 37 year old
Distilled: 1979, ABV 51%

Rich and creamy coal peat smoke greets you as you drink. Lots of lemon and wax on the palate, but it’s also light and feisty. A rich whisky to savour in front of a fire on a cold autumn evening. Leaves you with a tingly tongue. I prefer this to last year’s release, it’s an excellent Port Ellen, if only I could afford one! I had seconds, very lucky me indeed!

ConvalmoreConvalmore 32 year old
Distilled: 1984, ABV 48.2%

On the nose there’s gentle smokey summer fruits. On the palate it’s thick and creamy and packed with more flavour than expected, chewy sweeties with a zing on your tongue and a bitter end. A few friends weren’t too sure about it, but for me I loved it.

Glen ElginGlen Elgin 18 year old
Distilled: 1998 ABV 54.8%

Particularly buttery malt on the nose. Fairly powerful on the palate, slightly hot with the buttery malt coming through. Medium finish which tails off fairly quickly. A drop of water helps make it more accessible, it becomes a light malty drinker, water is a must. Lovely looking bottle, but very slightly boring malt (for me anyway, everyone has different tastes mind you).

Port DundasPort Dundas 52 year old
Distilled: 1964, ABV 44.6%

I’ve a love for grain whisky, and this one is amazingly good. Packed with summer fruits, over ripe but sweet and succulent. Hugely easy on the palate with a cask char that gives you a smokiness that reminds of a bonfire smell on the air. It’s got sweetness, but with a touch of tang to keep it grown up. It’s a really lovely whisky, a lot of love for this from everyone.

Blair AtholBlair Athol 24 year old
Distilled 1993, ABV 58.4%

Quite a winey type of nose; rich colour, and packed with fruits. Fairly powerful on the palate, rich and fruity; autumn fruits which are balanced with oak that’s fairly prominent. A drop of water is needed to back off the heat, which brings out more cream and fruits, and makes it over all much more enjoyable to drink.

Caol IlaCaol Ila 18 year old
ABV 59.8%

An unpeated malty nose that doesn’t give up too much too quickly, but with time it’s creamy and slightly autumnal. Thick on the palate, very easy, if not slightly restrained. Gently fruity with some heat at the back and a warm hug on the stomach. A longer finish than expected. At this strength some water helps. I’m not a fan of unpeated Caol Ila, but this was actually very good, nice one!

LagavulinLagavulin 12 year old
ABV 56.5%

Briny rich Laga notes; costal with a coal barge passing. On the palate it’s more restrained than some, but in a good way, it lets the coastal nature sing with the earthy iodine peat notes taking prime position. Great release for this year, much recommended if you love your peaty whiskies.

Final Thoughts: The Laga was great, a good release this year (it always is, but I prefer this year’s more than the last few). The Brora and Port Ellen are obviously great, but out of reach for most. Star of the show? Difficult, but maybe the Port Dundas, fabulous stuff, but sadly it looks almost impossible to buy, sold out everywhere already.

Available: All good online retailers such as Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange, and The Green Welly Stop (amongst many others).

Thank you to Diageo for the invite!

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