Diageo reveals 2020 Special Releases

Leading spirits producer Diageo has unveiled the eight Scotch whiskies in this year’s Special Releases collection, including a 30-year-old from the demolished Speyside distillery Pittyvaich.

Diageo’s 2020 Special Releases was inspired by the theme ‘Rare by Nature’ and were selected by master blender Dr Craig Wilson. The range comprises eight cask strength single malt Scotch whiskies sourced from distilleries scattered around Scotland. The 2020 Special Releases will be available in limited quantities from specialist Scotch whisky retailers spanning Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, select markets in Asia and in travel retail, as well as online via and malts.com this autumn. Wilson said: “I’ve created this year’s Special Releases Collection from some of my favourite distilleries across Scotland, with whisky enthusiasts in mind. “For those who enjoy spicy flavours, my recommendation would be to try our Cardhu and for those who favour rich, intense and smooth flavours, my choice would be Mortlach 21-year-old. “If you are curious about discovering something very rare, the Pittyvaich – the single ghost distillery in our Special Releases Collection this year – is an unforgettable dram.” Click through to the following pages to learn more about the 2020 Special Releases, including cask maturation, tasting notes and availability.

Cardhu 11 Years Old

Cardhu 11 Special ReleasesABV: 56.0% Region: Speyside Cask: From refill, new, and ex-Bourbon American oak Availability: Limited quantities worldwide RRP: £85 (US$113) Tasting notes: Fruity top notes of green apple, green grape and pineapple on the nose, leading to a hint of lemon peel and a faintly mossy base. The palate has a creamy-smooth texture with a buttery, hot and spicy flavour akin to hot-cross buns. The finish is quite long with some white pepper.

Cragganmore 20 Years Old

Cragganmore-20-Special-ReleasesABV: 55.8% Region: Speyside Cask: From refill casks and new fresh-charred casks. Availability: Limited quantities worldwide RRP: £130 (US$173) Tasting notes: A mellow nose with some quiet prickle, deeply wooded with fruity top notes of ripe pear, Ogen melon and green banana. The palate is rich and sweet, balanced by a drying and savoury mid-palate. The finish is long, dry with chilli spice.  

Dalwhinnie 30-Year-Old

Dalwhinnie-30-Special-ReleasesABV: 51.9% Region: Highland Cask: Refill hogsheads Availability: 6,978 bottles RRP: £550 (US$730) Tasting notes: Sweet and fragrant on the nose with dried herbal notes, subtle butterscotch and boiled sweets. Sweet, spicy, clean and fresh on the palate, with a peppery-spice warmth. The finish is long and warming, but water will cool the heat.

Lagavulin 12-Year-Old

Lagavulin 12 Special ReleasesABV: 56.4% Region: Islay Cask: Refill American oak casks Availability: Limited quantities worldwide   RRP: £125 (US$165) Tasting notes: Unusually ashy top notes for Lagavulin on the nose, but with typical linseed oil in time. Fruity notes of boiled sweets, and sea air. On the palate, the flavour is sweeter than expected, smoky with a little sea salt. Long and smoky finish with a salty aftertaste.

Mortlach 21-Year-Old

Mortlach 21 Special ReleasesABV: 56.9% Region: Speyside Cask: Pedro Ximénez and oloroso Sherry-seasoned casks Availability: 7,692 bottles RRP: £575 (US$764) Tasting notes: Rich dried fruits, fresh-baked buttered scones and lime marmalade on the nose, leading to a intense, savoury palate with a ‘kick’ of chilli pepper. Drying overall, with rich tannins. The finish presents fruit and savoury notes.

Pittyvaich 30-Year-Old

Pittyvaich-30-Special-ReleasesABV: 50.8% Region: Speyside Cask: First-fill ex-Bourbon casks Availability: 7,056 bottles RRP: £400 (US$531) Tasting notes: Tops notes of ripe tropical fruits, pear, papaya, pineapple and banana on the nose, leading ton a lightly oily and very smooth palate. Vanilla and fruit acidity, drying lightly on the finish with some lingering spicy warmth.

Talisker 8-Year-Old

Talisker 8 Special ReleasesABV: 57.9% Region: Isle of Skye Cask: Pot-still Caribbean rum casks Availability: Limited quantities worldwide RRP: £90 (US$120) Tasting notes: Sweet and maritime top notes on the nose, with hints of molasses and crystalline sugar, dry seaweed, salt and iodine and ‘pear drop’ boiled fruit sweets. The palate is salty and lightly sweet, before the Talisker pepperiness takes over. The finish is hot, peppery and drying, sweet and smoky.

The Singleton of Dufftown 17-Year-Old

Singleton 17 Special ReleasesABV: 55.1% Region: Highland Cask: Refill American oak hogsheads Availability: Limited quantities worldwide   RRP: £110 (US$146) Tasting notes: Honeycomb, spun honey and a trace of beeswax on the nose. A faint floral note of dried grass or wallflowers underneath. Creamy-smooth palate that is sweet overall, with a drying and slightly coating feel as beeswax reappears. The finish is quite long and warming with white pepper turning to chilli in the aftertaste