Diageo’s prolific collection of single malt Scotch whiskies, the Classic Malts Selection™, is augmented every year by the issue of a small portfolio of limited edition single malts, under the heading of Special Releases.
The series has always aimed to intrigue, delight and sometimes surprise whisky connoisseurs and collectors, by presenting unusual, rare, collectable – but always deeply enjoyable – expressions of single malt whisky, all from original distillery stocks.
Some are affordable, others enjoy a rarity that imposes frankly aspirational prices. Many enjoy striking, specially designed packaging that enhances the pleasure of ownership and sharing.
Familiar distilleries are often present, but in unusual expression or ages. Other bottles are drawn from the precious and dwindling stocks of distilleries that ceased production last century. Most are bottled at natural cask strength and all without chill filtration. There are eight Special Releases this year; five are from closed distilleries; and the whole production is less than 60,000 bottles.
As Diageo’s Nick Morgan explains:
“We set out to include one or two really unexpected bottlings in the 2011 Special Releases collection. Very few whisky connoisseurs – possible none at all – will ever have encountered anything like the 20 year old glorious Port Dundas™ single grain whisky that we are offering this year, and since the distillery closed two years ago, it’ll be a rare experience for those who who get to try it now.
“By contrast, the 25 year old Knockando™ from first-fill ex-sherry casks might astonish those who thought they know this malt: this bottling is rich, deep-flavoured and very complex. The Glenury Royal™ at 40 years old is a very venerable (and inevitably expensive) bottling, an old-style after-dinner experience; but it shows no fatigue and is packed with flavour. Lovers of the Lowland style will be charmed by the Rosebank™ 21 year old.”
Older & Rarer
As in previous years, Brora™ and Port Ellen™ will be a focus for committed devotees of these irreplaceable single malts.
The Brora 32 year old is in a limited edition of only 1,404 bottles: compare the first release in this series, in 2002, which ran to 3,000 bottles.
The Port Ellen, also at 32 years old, comes in an edition of 2,988 bottles (compared with 12,000 bottles in 2002!). Rarer and older as the years go by, both are priced at £300 (UK RRSP).
Images available. Details here.