Global drinks group Diageo last night presented its latest limited-edition creations as part of its now annual Special Releases collection.
The London event took place in an intimate basement venue where ten natural cask-strength whiskies were on display in two rooms hosted by Diageo brand ambassadors. Media guests – including the only travel retail title present, The Moodie Davitt Report – had a rare chance to taste all of the bottlings, priced domestically from £70 to £750 RRP (US$92 to US$984).
The hand-selected whiskies (listed below) – including some of the rarest and oldest from famous, lesser-known and often closed distilleries – have been eagerly anticipated by whisky enthusiasts and collectors globally.
The most limited of the editions are Caol Ila 35-year-old (3,276 bottles and priced at £675 (US$886) and Carsebridge 48-year-old (1,000 bottles priced at £750 (US$984).
All ten are being released worldwide – including in the duty free and travel retail channel – from this autumn. The first to get their hands on the collection will be specialist retailers in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and selected Asian markets.
Selective roll-out in travel retail
Diageo Global Prestige Malts Manager Jessica Lamothe told The Moodie Davitt Report: “The travel retail channel is part of the roll-out but there will be some exclusivities, so it will be done through selected retailers using selected lines. This collection resonates across many market but especially the USA and Europe, with growing interest in some Asian markets like China, Taiwan and Singapore.”
Speaking to The Moodie Davitt Report during a tasting of Caol Ila 35-year-old, Diageo’s Global Malts Ambassador Donald Colville said: “This collection is more about rarity than age though, of course, age is a factor. This year we have a year of firsts.”
It is the first inclusion of an Inchgower bottling; the first blending of six renowned coastal malts for Cladach; the oldest ever bottling of Carsebridge at 48 years; a first triple-matured The Singleton Glen Ord 14-year-old using a five-cask process; and the first new Talisker 8-year-old since the 1980s.
Colville added: “The Special Releases launch is a highlight in ours – and all whisky lovers’ – calendars. It’s a collection that allows both knowledgeable whisky fans and those new to Scotch to hunt out truly unique limited editions. The exceptional variety and quality of whiskies in this year’s collection will not disappoint.”
New focus for Port Ellen and Brora
The first Special Releases collection launched in 2001 with three bottlings and has grown since then, with the number of releases varying each year. From 2016, ten bottling have been selected by Diageo.
This year, for the first time since 2001, Port Ellen and Brora are not included in the range. Although Diageo has announced the re-opening of the new Port Ellen & Brora distilleries, stocks from the original distilleries are diminishing. “As such, we have decided to give Port Ellen and Brora the single-minded focus they deserve,” said Diageo. “They will still be available to purchase and be enjoyed by consumers as annual bottlings.” More details will be announced in due course.