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.
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.
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.
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.