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.
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.
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.
Singleton 17YO Special Release
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.