Whisky Focus - Diageo Special Releases 2020

Diageo Special Releases 2020

1st September 2020
Details of the Diageo Special Releases 2020

Diageo Special Releases 2020

Diageo has unveiled its Special Releases 2020 line-up, this year they are offering whisky enthusiasts a collection of eight cask strength, single malt, Scotch whiskies which have been curated by Diageo Master Blender Dr. Craig Wilson.

This years Special Release highlights includes a Pittyvaich expression from the now long closed Speyside ghost distillery which has been finished in first fill ex-bourbon casks, there is a rare Highland expression of Dalwhinnie matured in refill hogshead casks filled in 1989, a unique young Talisker which has been finished in pot-still Caribbean rum casks and of course the Diageo Special Release stalwart Lagavulin 12 year old, said to be a perfect expression of this Islay distillery’s character.

All eight of the whiskies have been bottled at cask strength, all are limited releases, three of which Diageo has revealed the number of bottles available but for the other four bottles Diageo has not revealed the numbers available other than to say they are available in limited quantities worldwide. So what are the the eight Diageo Special Releases 2020, well they are as follows:

Diageo Special Releases 2020: Cardhu 11 Year Old, Cragganmore 20 Year Old, Dalwhinnie 30 Year Old, Lagavulin 12 Year Old, Mortlach 21 Year Old, Pittyvaich 30 Year Old, Talisker 8 Year O, The Singleton of Dufftown 17 Year Old.

  • Cardhu 11 Year Old
    Bottled at a cask strength of 56% ABV. There is an undisclosed number of bottles of this Cardhu Special Release available worldwide.

    Matured in a combination of refill casks, new and American ex-bourbon fresh-charred Oak hogsheads. Described as having notes of fresh orchard pear, green apple, grape and pineapple join a trace of lemon peel on the nose, with a gentle mossy base. The texture is creamy-smooth, the taste sweet then juicy, with a buttery richness. Of a good length, the finish is spicy, with lingering warmth.

    Recommended Retail Price: £85
  • Cragganmore 20 Year Old
    Bottled at a cask strength of 55.8% ABV. There is an undisclosed number of bottles of this Cardhu Special Release available worldwide.

    Matured in a combination of refill American oak casks and new fresh-charred casks this is the first time a whisky of this age has ever been officially released from the Speyside distillery. Described as having a mellow sweet nose, revealing fruity top notes of ripe pear, soft melon and green banana, then more savoury hints of soft glove leather and sanded hardwood. The texture is creamy-smooth while the taste is rich and not quite as sweet, delightfully balanced by a savoury mid-palate. The finish is long, velvety and spicy-dry.

    Recommended Retail Price: £130
  • Dalwhinnie 30 Year Old
    Bottled at a cask strength of 51.9% ABV. Limited to 6,978 bottles worldwide.

    Laid down to mature back in 1989 in refill American oak hogsheads it is described as having a gentle aroma of sweet and fragrant with herbal scents, subtle traces of butterscotch and hard fruit candy, and a base of spicy wood. The texture is smoothly creamy, the vibrant taste richly sweet overall, with a drying, gradually building peppery-spicy warmth. The finish is long and delightfully warming.

    Recommended Retail Price: £550
  • Lagavulin 12 Year Old
    Bottled at a cask strength of 56.4% ABV. A regular in the Diageo Special Release line-up, as always there is an undisclosed number of bottles of the Special Release favourite available worldwide.

    Matured in refill American oak casks it is said to have unusually ashy top notes, but familiar hints of linseed oil. The palate is soft and smooth in texture with a big taste that is sweeter than expected. A long and very smoky finish ensues, though a touch of water makes it sweeter.

    Recommended Retail Price: £125
  • Mortlach 21 Year Old
    Bottled at a cask strength of 56.9% ABV. Limited to 7,692 bottles worldwide.

    Distilled in 1999 the 21 year Mortlach was finished in Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso-seasoned casks. On the nose it is described as swirling with dark dried fruits and savoury, meaty notes. The texture is super smooth, the intense taste is sweet with rich fruit and cured ham, building to a lingering spicy dryness. Long and impressive, the finish truly emphasises this harmony of sweetness and spice, leaving the palate dry in a glorious afterglow.

    Recommended Retail Price: £575
  • Pittyvaich 30 Year Old
    Bottled at a cask strength of 50.8% ABV. Limited to 7,056 bottles worldwide.

    Distilled in 1989 just 4 years before the now 'Ghost Distillery' closed, this 30 year expression was finished in first-fill American ex-bourbon casks. Aromas of sweet oak, delicate ripe fruitiness and dried flowers are said to leap from the glass. The palate is described as soft and silky, the sweet taste rich in notes of vanilla that perfectly match the classic green, creamy and fruity distillery character. It becomes drying in the development, while the smooth, warming finish closes with a final sweet flourish.

    Recommended Retail Price: £400
  • Talisker 8 Year Old
    Bottled at a cask strength of 57.9% ABV. There is an undisclosed number of bottles of this rather unique young Talisker Special Release available worldwide.

    Given its price and being the first ever Talisker expression to be finished in pot-still Caribbean rum casks could make this Special Release quite popular amongst whisky enthusiasts. The nose is said to have Talisker signature sweet and maritime notes, forming the top layer; molasses and Demerara sugar emerge from beneath and boast the rum cask influence. Expect an initial soft and smooth texture, before the Talisker pepperiness takes over the palate; a touch of water will soften the rich sweetness. A long, hotly pepper and drying finish lingers on the tongue.

    Recommended Retail Price: £90
  • The Singleton of Dufftown 17 Year Old
    Bottled at a cask strength of 55.1% ABV. There is an undisclosed number of bottles of this Dufftown Special Release available worldwide.

    Uniquely for a Dufftown whisky this 17 year old was fully matured in refill American oak hogshead casks and therefore it is no surprise that it is described as mellow and mild on the nose; with bright, spring-like scents of honey and orchard fruits give a pleasant first impression. A more intense, rich palate follows, with sweet notes of pear drops and beeswax making for a delightfully creamy dram. A peppery-spice lingers on in the finish and leaves the palate tingling.

    Recommended Retail Price: £110

Dr Craig Wilson Diageo Master Blender commented on his 2020 selection, saying: "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."

The Diageo Special Releases 2020 are currently available to pre-order from The Whisky Shop and will soon be available from other specialist online whisky shops such as The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt

History Of The Diageo Special Releases

Each year Diageo, Scotland’s leading distillers, examine their incomparable stocks of old, rare or unusual Single Malt Whiskies from their working distilleries and their several closed distilleries to see what can be released that year to satisfy the demands of the world’s connoisseurs, collectors and whisky enthusiasts.

The Special Releases series was first launched in 2001, and until 2005 it ran in parallel with the annual Rare Malts series. The Rare Malts bottlings ceased in 2005 to allow all future premium and rare Single Malt Whisky bottlings to be made available in the annual Special Releases series.

Where To Buy The Diageo Special Releases

Select a country for a list of specialist Whisky shops who delivers to you:

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