Diageo – Classic Malts – Special Releases 2014

Seit Ende der 80er gibt es die CLASSIC MALTS. Für die Liebhaber alter und rarer Whiskys entstand 1995 die RARE MALTS Collection. Auf Grund schwindender Lagerbestände alter Whiskys wurde diese 2005 wieder eingestellt. Seitdem werden regelmäßig „The Special Releases“ mit besonderen Jahrgängen und Qualitäten im Rahmen der CLASSIC MALTS für Sammler, Genießer und Enthusiasten angeboten.

Die Special Releases 2014 sind bereits seit Herbst erhältlich. Insgesamt gibt es diese elf besonderen Qualitäten:

  • The Singleton of Glendullan, 38yo, distilled 1975, ABV 59.8%, ca. 1.000.- EUR
  • Caol Ila Unpeated, 15 yo, distilled 1998, ABV 60.39%, ca. 92.- EUR
  • Caol Ila, 30 yo, distilled 1983, ABV 55.1%, ca. 600.- EUR
  • Clynelish Select Reserve, ABV 54.9%, ca. 700.- EUR
  • Cragganmore, 25 yo, distilled 1988, ABV 51.4%, ca. 400.- EUR
  • Lagavulin, 12 yo, ABV 54.4%, ca. 99.- EUR
  • Port Ellen, 35 yo, distilled 1978, ABV 56.5%, ca. 3.000.- EUR
  • Rosebank, 1985, 21 yo, distilled 1992, ABV 55.3%, ca. 400.- EUR
  • Benrinnes, 21 yo, distilled 1992, ABV 56.9%, ca. 320.- EUR
  • Brora, 35 yo, distilled 1978, ABV 48.6%, ca. 1.600.- EUR
  • Strathmill, 25 yo, distilled 1988, ABV 52.4%, ca. 350.- EUR

Alle diese Abfüllungen sind aktuell noch erhältlich. Für Deutschland sind diese unter anderem über den „Classic Malts“-Lieferanten Alexander&James erhältlich.

Für die Interessierten unter Euch habe ich mir hier die offiziellen Tasting Notes (engl.) besorgt. Falls Ihr Euch nun doch dazu entschliessen könnt, eine der Flaschen zu kaufen, oder dies bereits getan habt, lasst uns an Euren Eindrücken teilhaben.

The Singleton of Glendullan 38yo 1975 ABV 59.8%

Region: Speyside

SR2014 The Singleton Glendullan, 38yo
The Singleton Glendullan, 38yo

Rich, mellow and elegant, with all the confidence of age. A wonderfully fresh and interesting nose with a complex interplay of fresh acidity and cereal sweetness; like a fine old wine with flavours beyond fruit, you feel strangely drawn to its subtleties and splendid dry, absorbing finish.

  • Appearance: Attractive, rich harvest gold. Light beading.
  • Nose: Cautious at first, then profound; the light, sharp top notes are of ripe melon and mango with a squeeze of orange juice. All very mellow, with a scented background suggesting perfumed hand cream and a shortbread-like cereal sweetness. Yeasty, waxy notes introduce pronounced ripe red apple skins and mint. It opens up beautifully with aromas of clean vanilla, a fruiterer’s shop in summer, creamy toffee, oaty milk-chocolate biscuits, clotted cream. Later, a cranberry sharpness develops. More diffuse with water, which releases the rich scent of distant frankincense to set against subdued pine-resin.
  • Body: Medium to dense.
  • Palate: Lightly oily and intense at cask strength, when there’s a smooth, hot mouth-feel with the sweet-sharp taste of ripe red apples or gooseberries and the lingering sweetness of coconut. Rapidly, it all becomes denser and more coating. A creamy-sweet toffee note darkens to burnt caramel and the whole grows pleasingly charred and hints at a sappy, bitter edge. With water the taste is still lively and spicy, though as the flavours fuse that herbal edge softens to leave a warming, sweetly insistent malt.
  • Finish: Medium to long, drying and warming, with a compelling residual light sweetness, fresh fruitiness and a trace of candlewax or sandalwood incense before late, soaring, pine resin and that irresistible, drying conclusion.

Caol Ila Unpeated 15 year old distilled 1998 ABV 60.39%

Region: Islay

SR 2014 Caol Ila
Caol Ila, 15yo

A relaxed unpeated Caol Ila with a surprisingly clear maritime character that stays fresh and light throughout: surprisingly approachable and well-balanced with the familiar Caol Ila mix of sharp citrus and chewy cereals as well as dried fruits, barley-sugar sweetness and cleansing notes.

  • Appearance: Bright, pale yellow gold; light beading.
  • Nose: Unhurried and warming, yet surprisingly mellow. Fresh and cleansing, with malty, grainy cereal, crisp-breads topped with icing sugar and sherbet lemon sweets. Behind this there’s a dried herbal note and a maritime, distant scent of the sea. A reassuring fresh tang floats above fluffy marshmallow and vanilla, before late top notes of strawberry appear, which become chalky and minty, with milk chocolate. Water introduces old-fashioned oilskins; it’s heady, herbal and sweet, like a victoria sponge filled with cream and strawberry jam.
  • Body: Light.
  • Palate: Smooth and very sweet to taste, then salt toffee with chilli. Warming, sweet and prickly with lovely early liquorice and dark chocolate notes. All this is delicate at first, but soon firming and expanding on the palate, growing appetisingly herbal, with lots of cough candy and dried raisin fruit. With water it is very easy to drink; lightly oily, fresher, sweet and fragrantly fruity, with appetising saltiness (that maritime note again).
  • Finish: Medium length, clean and elegantly sustained throughout. Warming, with supple tannins, becoming dryer and more fragrant, with hints of juniper, leading to late eucalyptus. With water, there’s a clean, fresh, aftertaste.

Caol Ila 30 year old distilled 1983 ABV 55.1%

Region: Islay

SR2014 Caol Ila 30
Caol Ila, 30y

Bags of character, plenty of energy; this Caol Ila may enjoy all the wisdom of maturity but still knows how to dance. Complex, mature and well structured, it combines a palate and finish rich in mature peat smoke with elegantly drying, herbal accents to create a really pungent, moreish malt.

  • Appearance: Clear golden honey. Good beading.
  • Nose: Punchy, with masses of smoke, in spite of its age! Slightly compressed at first then, once the aroma settles, the smoke is first sweet (caramelised dark toffee or toasted marshmallows) then distant and vegetal (extinguished garden bonfire). Above this float lighter notes of fresh garden mint and softly acetic red berries, as in a raspberry vinegar dressing. Eventually and from a pleasing malty base a soft, newly cleansed smoky pungency develops, with hints of fresh pine, ozone and sweet smoke. Water reduces these scents and in the development reveals light toffee notes or digestive biscuits with set honey, sweet short-crust pastry, beeswax and more very late sweet smoke.
  • Body: Medium to full-bodied, dense.
  • Palate: Tongue-coating, sweet then somewhat salty and smoky-clean, with just a hint of struck match. A first vegetal note is soon overwhelmed by the smokiest of bonfires allied to a fresh-scrubbed cleanliness, with redcurrant tartness supplying a bitter twist. Still surprisingly sweet and syrupy with water, when taste and texture agreeably recall those of an old-fashioned cough elixir.
  • Finish: Long and dry, with an appetising bittersweet character that mixes aromatic herbs and liquorice with maritime notes and pungent peat-smoke.

Clynelish Select Reserve ABV 54.9%

Region: Coastal Highland

SR2014 Clynelish SR
Clynelish SR

A very complex whisky that moves smoothly from waxy high notes of rich fruit and sweet butterscotch, through deep warmth, to the silky, dark dryness of an aromatic finish. Evocative, confident and joyful, it is astonishingly fresh yet speaks of the past, layering the classic coastal ozone, brine and peat with fragrant, fruity complexity and sweet warmth and even easier to enjoy with water, which exposes its lighter side and raises more elegant layers of creamy flavour.

  • Appearance: Clean, bright yellow-gold with fine viscosity. Nose: Immediate and complex, with a joyous freshness. First, sweet waxy honeycomb cut by sharp, fruity resins. Then the sweetness moves through syrup to creamy butterscotch, balanced by dried raisins and caramelised fruit (burnt orange) or red apple and autumn berries. Later, a tangy hint of salad dressing and pine resin. Water releases the creamy, heady scent of rosewater Turkish delight or a perfumed candle; then fresh mint and sweet butterscotch, grass, fresh ripe apple, pear and pineapple fruit and woody tobacco or pencil shavings
  • Body: Medium. Rich.
  • Palate: Vibrant. Clean, sweet, fruity and full-flavoured, with the warmth of hot peppers and a creamy butterscotch sweetness, offset by fruit sharpness and a note of liquorice. Water smoothes and cools, bringing up a softer mouthfeel. The sweet fruit is well offset by a clean floral or mineral note, pepper and a nutty, biscuit dryness.
  • Finish: Short to medium. Very smooth and elegant, with a deep, spicy warmth. Becomes gently drying and nutty with silky, dry cocoa tannins, hints of cigar box cedar and a cleansing edge. Cooling with water; more distinct, fresh cedar notes now, and very late, dark-chocolate truffles.

Cragganmore 25 Year Old Distilled 1988 ABV 51.4%

Region: Speyside

SR2014 Cragganmore 25yo
Cragganmore, 25yo

A complex wonderful balance between sweet and dry. A spendidly mature, serious and intriguing whisky full of exciting and evocative aromas and flavours, which has a depth and elegant structure worthy of any study; adding water softens things yet also dulls this fabulous complexity.

  • Appearance: Rich antique gold, amber lights. Good beading.
  • Nose: Initially cautious, with soft hints of ripe red apple, then opening to reveal an astonishingly full, complex and vibrant combination of dried figs and raisins, damson jam, banana skin, polished leather and wood, sandalwood and muscovado sugar. Or you may find orange oil, honey, confectioners’ honeycomb, sweet malted cereals and even mango in a creamy syllabub! Then heady floral notes, like old-school French fragrances and suddenly old wooden fruit boxes with Brazil nuts, dates and dried figs. More Speyside character emerges with water, when it is softer and beautifully balanced but inevitably less complex, now with scents of banana pan-fried in butter, with brown sugar, and more pronounced hints of leather.
  • Body: Medium, creamy.
  • Palate: Dry overall after a sweet start, with flavours to match the complexity of the nose, and a pleasant texture and taste. It’s immediate and cooling, then smooth, with salty, savoury elements right at the outset. Passing through a warming, sweet raisiny level, it begins to acquire a lovely depth, with smoothly integrated oak, cocoa and balancing black cherry tartness. Again, it’s softer with water.
  • Finish: Medium in length with elegant, silky and unctuous tannins, so not over-drying, and suggestions of fruit, nuts, savoury meats and scented cellar wood. Softer with water; pleasantly winey and with more late hints of mature oak.

Lagavulin 12 Year Old ABV 54.4%

Region: Islay

SR2014 Lagavulin, 12yo
Lagavulin, 12yo

Lagavulin with a lighter spring to its step; big on distillery character and full of life, with freshness, cereals, citrus and signature smoke. Sweeter notes of toffee and fruit are unusually to the fore, though the serious interplay of tannins, herbs, resin and smoke leaves no doubt as to its lineage.

  • Appearance: Very pale delicate gold. Long beading.
  • Nose: Gentle, and slightly sweeter than expected. At first it seems like you’re in an old-time dairy; scrubbed clean, with a background scent of damped-down peat smoke. Gaining depth, the aromas grow appetisingly with classic notes of spent firework and ash above grainy cereals, acetic sharpness married to butterscotch sweetness, and boiled sweets, apple sauce, spearmint and juicy fruit. There’s toffee and fresh-baked baguette or leather too, with spice in the finish. Softer with water, at first it’s purely cleansing, then there’s a subtle interplay of mint, white vinegar and fresh wood smoke. The overall impression is youthful and vibrant: a malt for those who want a full-on smoky!
  • Body: Medium.
  • Palate: Immediate and intense. Sweet and lively, pleasantly oily, with lime zest and a barley sugar sweetness soon wreathed in peat-smoke. Then, dry and aromatic wood cut by a salty, smoky sharpness in the mid palate. Better with water; lighter, still sweet and zesty, oily and fruity, slightly salty, the smoke more autumnal. Like a slice of rich fruitcake eaten near a wood-fired stove.
  • Finish: Lengthy, warming and coating. Waxy, resinous and herbal with burnt dried mixed fruit; sweet on the tongue with wood smoke on the breath. With water a delicate sweetness supports late, resinous pine and autumn smoke.

Port Ellen 35 Year Old Distilled 1978 ABV 56.5%

Region: Islay

A glorious grande dame, superb in every way and with a poise and self-assurance born of long experience. An unexpected Port Ellen with a warming, spicy, gingery edge to its traditional sweet and smoky nature: captivating at cask strength, while a little water reveals a charming sweetness in the nose and richness and depth on the palate.

  • Appearance: Bright, deep gold with amber lights. Fine beading.
  • Nose: Sophisticated and understated; dry overall, opening with distant, faint smoke, before a wave of familiar sweet and smoky notes, among which hints of hessian and warm wood are all that suggest great age. The distant smoke soon grows closer and more fragrant, while above it drift pleasing sweet aromas of honey-cured smoked meats or root vegetable. Through all this a fresh, cleansing note rises, to vie with sweet mint and sharp citrus – winey hints too. Finally, smooth, dark cocoa, some vanilla and more wood smoke. With water, first sweet, then more muted and savoury, though later a fruity clarity sweetly returns.
  • Body: Smooth and agreeably oily.
  • Palate: Immediate and lively! At first, rich and honeyed, the sweetness perfectly balanced by maritime salt as if to suggest sweet seaweed. Then, unexpected notes of citrus and ginger burst like lime and ginger marmalade on wholemeal toast. In turn, this sunny edge is clouded by sweet smoke, rising against a velvety backdrop of dark chocolate. The rich character remains in essence unchanged when reduced with water; still warming, the citrus becomes orange oil, with ginger and modest smoke.
  • Finish: Very long and warming, with crisp ginger and citrus, and fresh, menthol-clean notes that rise against a backdrop of drying, oaky wood smoke.

Rosebank 1985 – 21 Year Old Distilled 1992 ABV 55.3%

Region: Lowlands

SR2014 Rosebank, 21yo
Rosebank, 21yo

A very fine example of this distinguished Lowland malt that with a little water makes the perfect apéritif. The seductively sweet, heady and exotic nose contrasts beautifully with the appetising, cleansing, bittersweet dryness of the palate, which has natural, fresh, clean flavours and aromas.

  • Appearance: Bright, pale old gold, attractive. Good beading.
  • Nose: Immediate and expansive. First an enticing soft, sweetness is cut with citrus-fresh lemon, lime and grapefruit, and tinned lychees; juicy, against a mossy background. This becomes heady and floral, with icing sugar, then merging layers of orange blossom, Turkish delight and crystallised citrus fruits. There’s more freshness to come as orange zest, then vanilla pod ice cream, fruit salad, and milk chocolate. Things become less spicy and more perfumed with water, which brings a more dreamlike floral sweetness; strawberry-scented travel sweets now, dusted with icing sugar.
  • Body: Medium, oily.
  • Palate: Fresh, clean and appetising. Smooth, cool, clean, fresh – and distinctly spicy at natural strength, when the centre palate effect is bittersweet and herbal. Then, gently warming rich dark chocolate and peppermint introduce a pervasive, appetising dryness. Now an edge appears that is both cleansing and charred, as with scorched pastry. It’s always a refreshingly natural palate, which remains spicy at reduced strength while also now sweeter and sharper, so becoming a fully rounded apéritif.
  • Finish: Short, warming and drying, with a last tangy memory of boiled fruit sweets after a fine liquorice sweetness runs under higher notes of menthol and dark, drying cocoa.

Benrinnes 21 Year Old – 1992 – ABV 56.9%

Region: Speyside

SR2014 Benrinnes, 21yo
Benrinnes, 21yo

A heart-warming dram: robust, big-bodied and bluff. Intriguing, rewarding and compelling; a grown-up malt that is all about flavour, with mere suggestions of truffle oil or ginger cake on a quiet nose followed by wonderfully appetising, spicy and bittersweet tastes on the palate.

  • Appearance: Polished copper or beech. Excellent beading.
  • Nose: Extremely reserved, but clearly savoury at first: almost sapid with hints of truffle oil, or earthy with a fruity sweetness as found in ginger cake with sultanas. This soon settles down to fruit-cake mix with allspice and nutmeg. With time, sweetness emerges as dark treacle toffee; then grows richer, as sweet, buttery pastry and whipped cream. Later, newly burnt toast leads to a charred conclusion, with embers from a wood fire. Equally slow with water; waxier though, with a little steamed ginger sponge, some fruit cake, and aromatic woody notes.
  • Body: Light. Gently oily.
  • Palate: Big, smooth-textured and mouth-filling, with a sweet and spicy nature. The first sip cools, then the taste catches fire! Briefly salty and savoury, with oily undertones, then a developing toffee sweetness eventually leads to (appetising) burnt pastry. With water, the texture is equally smooth, the taste a fine, more-ish balance of sweet and spicy.
  • Finish: Lengthy, chewy and warming, with a menthol effect, a hint of flint, then burnt currants on Christmas cake or dried orange peel. There are notes of almond in the beautifully aromatic aftertaste and there’s a very late, charred astringency with a faded trace of smoke.

Brora 35 Year Old Distilled 1978 ABV 48.6%

Region: Coastal Highlands

SR2014 Brora, 35yo
Brora, 35yo

A deep, unhurried old Brora fully deserving of an evening’s contemplation as it takes its time to develop fully; the smoke and coastal notes take a while to arrive but it’s a classic Brora once they do, especially once a drop of water is added. Magnificent!

  • Appearance: Pale yellow gold. Moderate beading, lingering.
  • Nose: Cautious and subtle, briefly savoury with notes of dry salt in an aroma which somehow combines old-fashioned canvas tents with juicy fruit compote! Melted candlewax becomes the key scent, with a whiff of fragrant smoke. Then, quickly, sharp, sweet high notes of ripe red apples, pears and pear drops, broadening to glazed red berries in patisserie. Grainy, clean, fresh and focused. Eventually subtle, with sweet smoke, honey, lemon zest and barley sugar. Classic at reduced strength, with scents of apricot or moorland floating above a slightly waxy base.
  • Body: Medium to light..
  • Palate: Cooling, then surprisingly vibrant and hot; lightly oily, but not as waxy as some expressions. Light sweetness, with ripe autumn fruits, then distinctly salty, with some smoke behind. Things grow pleasingly coating, with more smoky notes and a little chocolate cake. Water brings out the classic Brora virtues; now it’s lightly waxy, chewy, sweet and tangy, still with some salt, and more rounded overall.
  • Finish: Peppery-hot, tongue-tingling and sharply warming. Drying, supple oak with cinnamon, mint and pine resin. A memory of the coast: distant sand, fresh ozone and smoke.

Strathmill 25 Year Old Distilled 1988 ABV 52.4%

Region: Speyside

SR2014 Strathmill, 25
Strathmill, 25

Light and cheerful as a summer morning. An enigmatic and tantalising nose, well balanced between fresh and over-ripe, leads after a sweet start to an elegant dryness on the complex palate, then a long finish with a lovely aromatic dryness. Add water if you wish, but with care.

  • Appearance: The clear, bright gold of watery sunlight. Delicate pin-point beading
  • Nose: Understated, yet vibrant overall and captivating, starting tart and fruity with the delicate wild, floral high notes of a rowan jelly or elderflower cordial. After a while these fresher aromas soften and merge into a sweet stewed fruit compote. Later, there are notes of biscuit or cereal, and on further opening orange oil, a little stewed apple and crisp, white grapes. There’s a very pure and elegant structure throughout. Water softens and slightly sweetens the overall aroma but it’s no less complex, as Speyside traits and a trace of eucalyptus now emerge
  • Body: Medium
  • Palate: Creamy and coating. After the nose, the beeswax and ripe red apple sweetness of the first taste is surprising, yet there is a green, earthy note behind, with a trace of liquorice or raisins and aged, dried fruit. For a moment, a welcome, rich, dark-chocolate smoothness takes over, then drying notes of cough candy and clove prevail. With water the taste becomes fresher, with a little vanilla, and cooler, as that eucalyptus aroma translates into menthol on the palate
  • Finish: Long, with aromatic and drying black teas, and oak shavings. Water eases a little of the dryness and releases menthol and more clove notes. Resinous and warming too, with a rising, charred, astringency.

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