The world’s largest producer of deliciously drinkable spirits – and maker of Johnnie Walker – Diageo has launched its 2017 Special Releases Collection in time for the festive season, a veritable compendium of seven rare and limited edition whiskies including four made by distilleries that have closed down.
If the names Port Dundas, Port Ellen, Brora and Convalmore don’t mean anything to you, well, you won’t be too interested in news of the recent unveiling of Diageo’s 2017 Special Releases Collection. But if you hold close whiskies from any of those silent distilleries to your heart, you’d be ecstatic to know that the collection includes spirit from those much vaunted, and missed, distilleries.
The Diageo 2017 Special Release Collection contains seven different cask strength whiskies:
Blair Athol 23YO (S$600, 58.4% ABV).
This bottle features spirit produced in 1993 at the Highland distillery which normally makes a 12YO expression, with most of its production ending up in blended whiskies. Just 5,514 bottles are available worldwide.
Convalmore 32YO (S$1,850, 48.2% ABV).
This of course comes from the Dufftown, Speyside-based Convalmore, which was mothballed in 1985 and sold off to William Grant & Sons (it’s now part of the complex that makes Glenfiddich). Official bottlings are extremely rare; none were released before it was sold off, and only been three till now – a 1978 expression released in 2003, a 28YO released in 2005, and then a 36YO released in 2013. And then only 3,972 bottles of this are available worldwide too, which helps explain the commanding price.
COLLECTIVUM XXXVIII (S$250, 57.3% ABV).
If there was a single way to express the full breadth of Diageo’s whisky portfolio, the COLLECTIVUM XXVIII is it. Released for the first time, this non-age statement (NAS) blended Scotch whisky comprises liquid from each of Diageo’s 28 active single malt and grain distilleries.
Teaninich 17YO (S$410, 55.9% ABV).
Teaninich is one of Diageo’s workhorse distilleries providing liquid for blending purposes so official single malt expressions are extremely rare; in fact there’s only a 12YO, part of Diageo’s Flora & Fauna series that showcases its lesser-known distilleries, before this 17YO. Another interesting thing about Teaninich? It uses a hammer mill and mash filter in place of a mash tun.
Port Ellen 37YO (S$4,080, 51% ABV).
Port Ellen needs no introduction to whisky connoisseurs and especially not for peatheads; the spirit made by this Islay distillery – mothballed in 1983 – became instantly collectible every time Diageo released any expression. And a 37YO Port Ellen is about as collectible as any. Good news for peatheads though; Diageo recently announced that it will be reopening Port Ellen, presumably to tap on the growing demand for smoky, peaty whiskies.
Brora 34YO (S$2,240, 51.9% ABV).
Another name that’s whispered in awed tones, the Highlands-based Brora – originally known as Clynelish – is yet another closed distillery in the Diageo portfolio that made whisky that’s attained a kind of cult status. This 34YO takes spirit produced just two years before it became silent. Thankfully, just as it was mothballed along with Port Ellen in 1983, Diageo will be resurrecting Brora alongside its Islay cousin. Hopefully that brings down the ticker price (but we’re not counting on it).
Port Dundas 52YO ($1,190, 44.6% ABV).
This 52YO is the second release ever from the original distiller’s stocks, and is the oldest ever whisky ever launched in Diageo’s special release series. In fact this is the oldest bottle to ever be released by the Port Dundas grain distillery – which was closed in 2009 – at all, using spirit distilled in 1964.
The Diageo 2017 Special Releases Collection is available through the Johnnie Walker House in Singapore.