Spanning fifteen rare single malt Scotch whiskies aged between 18 and 30 years old, The Secret Speyside Collection focuses on four distilleries: the ‘vanished’ Caperdonich, ‘pioneering’ Longmorn, ‘landmark’ Glen Keith and ‘remote’ Braes of Glenlivet to demonstrate the breadth of flavour and character across the region’s distilleries. We got the low-down on Chivas Brothers’ biggest ever single malt drop…

“The reason Speyside is the number one whisky-producing region in Scotland is because people have been distilling there for generations, for the most part legally,” says Alex Robertson, head of heritage and education at Chivas Brothers, addressing a crowd at Soho hangout The Painting Rooms, where scenes for nearby theatre-land were historically painted; an apt choice given Chivas Brothers’ penchant for storytelling drams with a real sense of place.

“There’s also an abundance of natural resources and the ideal climate for producing the finest and rarest Scotch whiskies,” he continues. “But there’s a fourth element that became apparent to me very soon when I joined 12 years ago, and that was people – there’s even people with 20, 30, 40 years experience in Scotch whisky, they have spent their entire lives in Scotch whisky and each and every one of them has played a part in the whiskies [in The Secret Speyside Collection].”

Caperdonich Distillery

Caperdonich Distillery, closed in 2002 and was demolished in 2011

Master distiller Alan Winchester, whose career in Scotch whisky spans more than 40 years – with over three decades distilling experience in Speyside – lives in Dufftown, the heart of the whisky-making region. To him, Speyside is “simply, home”. “It’s great to get out and lose yourself in the mountains,” he says. “Speyside is very rural, it’s the middle of nowhere, though I’ve always said that we’re the centre of the universe and everything else radiates from that. We have a great pride in the distilleries we work in, with lots of rivalry – but it’s good-natured rivalry.”

The local community is immensely proud to be a part of the Speyside whisky region’s global footprint, he continues. “It’s a way of life in that sense, absolutely,” says Winchester. “The guys and girls that make these whiskies come back from their holidays and say, ‘We saw a bottle of Aberlour on the shelf in this remote part of the world’. We’ve all got that pride.”

Without further adieu, here’s The Secret Speyside Collection in full, complete with distillery geekery, bottle details and tasting notes supplied by Chivas Brothers. The Collection will be exclusively available in Global Travel for a year before ‘selected markets’ get their mitts on it come summer 2020. Bask in its beauty!

Caperdonich 25 Year Old Peated

Caperdonich 25 Year Old Peated

Caperdonich Distillery

If you’re lucky (or wealthy) enough to get your smackers around one of these drams, be sure to sip and savour. The folks at Chivas reckon this collection contains the only available single malts from this distillery. “Just fire up the stills and churn out some more!”, you cry. Well, they can’t, since the entire building was torn down back in 2011, hence the ‘vanished’ moniker. There will be six whiskies released from Caperdonich in total; three being peated (not the norm for a Speyside, as you know) and the remaining three unpeated. FYI, the peated 25 year old and non-peated 30 year old will hit shelves in October this year.

Caperdonich 18 Year Old Peated
Tell me more? Matured in American oak barrels and bottled at 48% ABV

How does it taste? Smoky bonfire comes together with the classic sweet and fruity Speyside style. This rare and robust Single Malt is subtly layered with initial aromas of peat, followed by a taste of apple and brown sugar, gentle ginger and warming orange.

What’s the damage? RRP US$130

Caperdonich 21 Year Old Peated
Tell me more? Matured in American oak barrels and bottled at 48% ABV

How does it taste? This is a layered and complex malt: gentle peat and bonfire embers come together with warm cedar and mandarin orange. Long and smoky, the finish leaves a subtle taste of liquorice and herbal tea leaves.

What’s the damage? RRP US$290

Caperdonich 25 Year Old Peated
Tell me more? Matured in oak hogsheads at cask strength

How does it taste? This smoky and fruity malt engulfs the senses: rich notes of peat smoke are brilliantly balanced by green apple and sweet pear, with bonfire aromas and a hint of salt leading into a long and smooth finish.
What’s the damage? RRP US$550

Caperdonich 21 Year Old Unpeated
Tell me more? Matured in first fill American oak barrels and bottled at 48% ABV

How does it taste? This fruity and sweet malt brings together zesty orange, poached pear and rich vanilla, with floral herbs for a long and smooth finish.

What’s the damage? RRP US$250

Caperdonich 25 Year Old Unpeated
Tell me more? Matured in American oak barrels and bottled at 48% ABV

How does it taste? This warming, rich malt combines complex flavours of juicy blackcurrant, sweet pear and creamy milk chocolate. A touch of cinnamon spice leads to a long and succulent finish.

What’s the damage? RRP US$480

Caperdonich 30 Year Old Unpeated
Tell me more? Matured in first fill American Oak barrels and bottled at cask strength

How does it taste? Flavours of soft fruit and fresh pineapple meet sweet honey. This is the ultimate malt from the lost distillery: well-balanced with gentle, warming spices and an incredibly long, smooth finish.

What’s the damage? RRP USRRP $990

Longmorn 18 Year Old

Longmorn 18 Year Old

Longmorn Distillery

Make no mistake, Longmorn was something of a futuristic wonderland when founder John Duff – the Steve Jobs of Scotch whisky history, if you will – designed the distillery back in 1894. Built on the site of an old chapel, ‘pioneering’ Longmorn is one of only a handful of distilleries that has its wash stills in one room and rather ornate-looking spirit stills in another; Duff even built a railway station next door so whisky-making would be more efficient. Its whiskies are a favourite among connoisseurs and there’s no question the three in this collection, bottled at 18, 23 and 25 years old, will go down an absolute treat.

Longmorn 18 Year Old
Tell me more? Matured in American oak barrels and hogsheads and bottled at 48% ABV

How does it taste? Incredibly smooth with notes of mango and creamy toffee, complemented by flavours of ripe juicy pear and a touch of oak. The finish is incredibly sweet and long.

What’s the damage? RRP US$100

Longmorn 23 Year Old
Tell me more? Matured in American oak barrels and hogsheads and bottled at 48% ABV

How does it taste? Incredibly sweet with creamy milk chocolate and fruity pear flavours mixed with lemon curd and a touch of ginger. The finish is voluptuous with a warming spice.

What’s the damage? RRP US$290

Longmorn 25 Year Old
Tell me more? Matured in American oak barrels, hogsheads and butts. Bottled at cask strength, 52.2% ABV

How does it taste? Incredibly sweet with a touch of cinnamon followed by notes of red apple, mandarin orange and rich sultanas. Dry in character, the finish is long and smooth.

What’s the damage? RRP US$450

Glen Keith 25 Year Old

Glen Keith 25 Year Old

Glen Keith Distillery

Bona-fide Speyside history here, since Glen Keith was the region’s very first 20th century distillery. Set on the banks of the River Isla in the ruins of an old mill, the distillery’s pot stills are taller than average, resulting in a slinky-smooth dram. Whiskies from this ‘landmark’ distillery are described as ‘a complex, intensely smooth example of the classic Speyside style, bursting with juicy summer fruit notes’. The bottlings below are the distillery’s first age statement releases this century. Lovely stuff.

Glen Keith 21 Year Old
Tell me more? Matured in specially selected oak barrels and butts and bottled at 43% ABV

How does it taste? A perfect balance of fruit and sweetness. Soft peach and tropical pineapple, with a toasted almond finish.

What’s the damage? RRP US$180

Glen Keith 25 Year Old
Tell me more? Matured in first fill American oak barrels and bottled at 43% ABV

How does it taste? A perfect balance of sweetness and mellow spice. Orange and ginger marmalade with tangy gooseberry jam and vanilla custard.

What’s the damage? RRP US$380

Glen Keith 28 Year Old
Tell me more? Matured in first fill American oak barrels and bottled at 43% ABV

How does it taste? A perfect balance of sweet fruit and soft spice. Sweet orange, apricot and vanilla fudge with a touch of homemade gingerbread.

What’s the damage? RRP US$500

Braes of Glenlivet 30 Year Old

Braes of Glenlivet 30 Year Old

Braes of Glenlivet Distillery

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the very first bottlings from the ‘remote’ Braes of Glenlivet, one of the highest distilleries in Speyside. These cracking drams are shaped by the Scottish elements – they say when snow falls on Speyside, it falls on the Braes of Glenlivet first – using water sourced from Preenie Well, found two miles deep in the Braes hills. Despite the weather forecast, these whiskies are smooth, balanced, and packed with tropical fruits. Climate change, eh?

Braes of Glenlivet 25 Year Old
Tell me more? Matured in first fill American oak barrels and bottled at 43% ABV

How does it taste? Sweet notes on the nose with aromas of orange marmalade and ripe melon. Fruity flavours on the palate with apricot intermingled with sweet coconut and complemented by a long, spicy dry finish.

What’s the damage? RRP US$400

Braes of Glenlivet 27 Year Old
Tell me more? Matured in first fill American oak barrels and bottled at 43% ABV

How does it taste? Intense fruity notes on the nose with aromas of red apple and cinnamon. Sweet and creamy on the palate with hints of ripe banana and butterscotch leading to a long and velvety finish.

What’s the damage? RRP US$450

Braes of Glenlivet 30 Year Old 30 year old (cask strength, 50.3% ABV)
Tell me more? Matured in American oak barrels and hogsheads. Bottled at cask strength, 50.3% ABV

How does it taste? Tropical notes on the nose with aromas of mango and root ginger. Fruity flavours intensifying on the palate with juicy orange, blackberry jam and marzipan coming through, resulting in a long-lasting, sweet finish.

What’s the damage? RRP US$600

Braes of Glenlivet

Braes of Glenlivet, looks chilly