Like a relaxed orchard on a summer day, the nose offers wildflowers, fresh pears, crisp apples, honey and hay. There’s an earthiness too, which grounds things nicely.
Smooth and creamy, like shea butter and beeswax. There’s more honey here, plus milk chocolate, vanilla custard over apple crumble, and hints of raspberries. The body is breezily light without feeling flimsy.
Long and surprisingly warming after the gentle palate – soft chilli comes through to liven things up slightly.
A relaxed Singleton of Dufftown expression – a delightfully mellow dram best paired with excellent friends and wonderful conversation.
Talisker 18YO Special Release
Rich and fruity – Victoria plums, greengages, perhaps dried orange peel – with some butterscotch or rum toffee and a thread of smoke behind. The smoke soon advances into the foreground and the toffee note is joined by a light mintiness. With water maritime characteristics emerge – dry boat varnish, edible seaweed. Still sweet; now with notes of iodine and the smokiness of an un-struck match.
Full. Pleasant, smooth.
Sweet in front, then more assertive, with a whiff of smoke. The overall effect is warming. The development is towards smoke, coal-tar and toffee.
Medium length. Talisker’s characteristic chilli ‘catch’ in the finish is subtly present in the aftertaste.
Talisker 8Yo Special Release 2021
This Talisker 8 Year Old has been matured in peated refill casks.
The nose begins with some lovely peated notes and a wonderful hint of orchard fruit Sea air and brine also appears.
The palate has lots more peat smoke, which combines well with the seaside flavours. Herbal notes of heather and moss come through, with sweet caramel and chocolate as well. It is very smooth and has a wonderful star of anise spice throughout.
The finish is bold and full of sea salt, brine and peat smoke.
Lagavulin 26Yo Special Release 2021
This is one of the most impressive malts in the Special Releases series and has been matured in first fill Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
The nose is spicy and sweet, with lots of sherry notes. Fruit flavours waft through, with big notes of raisins, apples and citrus notes.
The palate is warming and smooth with big notes of peat smoke and seaside flavours. Exotic fruits add a lovely zest to the peat. Cinnamon and nutmeg bring in a bit of warmth alongside chewy dried fruits.
The finish is full of peat and fruit and lingers on spice.
Lagavulin 12Yo Special Release 2021
The nose opens with a blanket of peaty malt, where the sweet, mellow tones of caramel biscuits are imbued in marine notes with medicinal and smoky streaks. Green apple and lemon zest creep in among the aromas, lightening their weight, with mineral impressions that intensify over time, amplifying the coastal imprint of the distillate. Full-bodied Islay.
In the mouth it unleashes a sparkling peppery note of ginger that anticipates a creamy and quite oily body, where the fruity hints grow (again apple with pineapple, citrus, plum) crowded by even more maritime impressions, where salt and iodine dive on the burning embers. Pickled olives and lemon at length, with a touch of oyster.
The finish is long and very salty, dry, of ash, apple, lemon and malt biscuits.
Royal Lochnagar 16Yo Special Release 2021
This Royal Lochnagar has been matured with both sherry and bourbon casks.
The nose begins with big notes of orchard fruits, fresh cut grass and lots of florals. It is very aromatic and has white fruits and blossom alongside white sugar and oak wood.
The palate is rich and elegant, with notes of dried fruits, sherry spice and apples. Sweet nuts, oak wood and delicate florals appear. Vanilla cake with frosting adds a lovely sweetness. The oak is full of vanilla notes and recalls the orchard flavours in the nose.
The finish is mellow and sweet, with more floral hints and a lovely vanilla finish.
The Special Releases series is always looked forward to by Diageo fans. It spans such a wide variety of distilleries and flavour profiles that it has something for everyone while at the same time being high quality. This year’s offerings are enhanced even more with the addition of beautiful artworks and the stories that go along with them.
Oban 12Yo Special Release 2021
Matured in American oak casks that have been recharred as well as ex-Bourbon casks.
The nose is brimming with orchard notes and cinder toffee sweetness. It is mouthwateringly inviting. Citrus fruits round off alongside oak wood and caramel.
The palate is sweet and full of butterscotch, apples and pears. Oak wood and cinnamon come through with a lovely heat. Clementines and more citrus notes give it a lovely warming feel. Caramel with slightly salty hints also appear.
The finish is smooth and mellow with lots of caramel and cinnamon spice.
Cardhu 14YO Special Release 2021
Flowers and fruit emerge from the glass to caress the nostrils, with a thick blanket of malt wrapped in freshly cut grass accompanied by linden, green apple, pineapple, banana, vanilla, honey. Gooseberry and wild strawberry vein the aromas, which at length reveal a faint trace of propolis. Fresh.
A pleasant pepperiness welcomes the palate that reaffirms its herbaceous nature, even more pronounced, with notes of unripe fruit (apple, especially) that intertwine with malt and almond with impressions of grapefruit, pine nuts and a vague hint of vanilla. Astringency seems to be the only note offered by wine aging.
Finish not very long and dry, of almond, veins of anise, malt, apple.
A not exalting but pleasing bouquet is not supported by the palate, which turns out to be pretty flat and not very interesting, reiterating the impressions I have found so far in the (few) expressions I tried of Cardhu.
Singleton 19Yo Special Release 2021
Fruit and flowers glide through the nostrils, enveloping the nose in an elegant blanket that is both sweet and rough. Magnolia and almonds intertwine with pear, pineapple, dried apricot, strudel and brown sugar, with an underlying vein of varnish. Very mineral and taut on the length. Austere.
In the mouth it’s very peppery and effervescent, as unexpected as a dignified gentleman dancing the Macarena at a vernissage. But from this charge of energy emerges an even drier and more mineral spirit, where the fruit takes a back seat to more astringent and citric notes on which green apple, tea leaves, pencil shavings and almonds jump. There’s a light patina of honey and vanilla in the background.
The finish is quite long and very dry, with spices, wood, green apple, almonds and a touch of varnish.
The cognac casks may have had more of an impact than they should have, with the distillate seeming not to have borne their influence and ending up being crushed by them. Woody and dry in the extreme, which are distinctive signs and as such appreciable, but personally do not convince me much.
Mortlach 13Yo Special Release 2021
Matured in sherry and virgin oak casks.
The nose brims with malted grains, caramel and sweet nuts. There is a hint of marzipan and candy floss with a lovely floral note throughout.
The palate brings in notes of vanilla, oak wood and more caramel. Dried fruits, oat biscuits and more malted grains appear. There is a hint of dark chocolate and citrus fruits. Orchard fruits give it a slightly refreshing feel.
The finish is full of oak wood, vanilla and apples.