Four drams dealt with on Tuesday. Now here’s the Fantastic Five from Diageo’s 2015 Special Releases.
Lagavullin 12 Year Old – 48.8%
All three of Diageo’s Islay distilleries are out in force this year and what a trio they are! The Lagavullin 12 year old has become a staple of the Special Releases and for a good reason. The nose offers up the usual smoky bonfire you’d expect, along with pepperiness and a touch of the sea. But compared to the 16 Year Old there’s a bit more control here. The bold flavours transfer to the palate, whilst also offering sweetness, strong menthol notes, and a long, dry finish. It’s also the most affordable of the whole range, coming in at just £80.
Caol Ila 17 Year Old – 55.9%
I’ve kept the company of an unpeated Caol Ila in the past and I was delighted to bump into this one during the Special Releases launch. This is the oldest release to date and it’s a wee rascal, as it’s the smokiest unpeated Caol Ila I’ve tasted. The nose has warmth and heat, balanced off with a palate which is fresh, fruity and sweet. The finish is long, lingering, and yes, smoky!
Port Ellen 32 Year Old – 53.9%
This year sees the fifteenth release from Diageo’s old father time – Port Ellen. The distillery closed in 1983 and stocks are fast running out, meaning the price has crept up to a cool £2,400. The nose is just as rich as the price tag – creamy, smoky and spicy. These rich flavours are joined by sweetness on the palate of caramel, honey, raisins and dates. And the finish leaves you with that warm glow of knowing you’re drinking a slice of whisky history.
Clynelish Select Reserve – 56.1%
This is the only non-aged bottling in this year’s range and has been expertly blended by whisky wizard Dr Jim Beveridge. The youngest whisky is said to be 15 year old, so there should be a good amount of older Clynelish in here too. There’s the waxiness that you’d expect from Clynelish, along with buttery-ness and citrus – a bit like a lemon drizzle cake. The palate is deliciously comforting and thick, with the sweet and spicy autumnal flavours lingering in the mouth.
Dailuaine 34 Year Old – 50.9%
Although I’ve not been ranking the whiskies throughout this piece, the Dailuaine 34 Year Old was definitely the winner for me on the night. One of Diageo’s lesser-known distilleries, Dailuaine is an absolute gem, with the Flora & Fauna release one of my top five favourite whiskies, which usually spends its full 16 years in sherry casks. The fact this special release hasn’t been near sherry just goes to prove the power of this distillery. The nose is dense and robust, with a mix of strong citrus and almost menthol-like flavours. This dram just gets BIGGER on the palate, with dried fruit, chocolate and marmalade all packing a punch. And the finish leaves an almost tobacco-like flavour in your mouth – good Cuban cigar tobacco though.
Now, obviously these bottling are towards the upper end of the price scale and buying the entire collection is out of the question for 99.9% of the people. But if you find yourself in a bar which stocks them, take the plunge and maybe order and dram or two – you won’t regret it!