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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Dufftown

Diageo Special Releases 2020: Details are in!

It’s that time of year again – Diageo has just released the details of its Special Releases 2020 haul and we’ve had a taste! Here’s everything you need to know….

It’s that time of year again – Diageo has just released the details of its Special Releases 2020 haul and we’ve had a taste! Here’s everything you need to know.

It’s always a big day in the whisky calendar when the embargo lifts for Diageo Special Releases. A collection of unusual and generally pretty rare cask-strength single malt Scotch whiskies (no grain this year – obsessives of that style collectively stifle a sob), Special Releases celebrate distillery character, notable firsts, and often, pleasing quirks. 2020’s haul is no different!

The Rare by Nature theme returns, which is a deliberate throwback to 2019. And the eagle-eyed among us will note that the distillery line-up is a repeat from last year, too. The liquid, however, is all new. 

“The first selection we did of Rare by Nature was really well received,” explained Ewan Gunn, Diageo’s global Scotch whisky master, when he introduced the Special Releases 2020 line-up on a Zoom call. “People liked that they were all related to each other, the spread of piece points.” 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Eight delicious whiskies, the highlight of which for our money is that young Talisker…

Stand-out highlights? The first pot still Jamaican rum-finished Talisker expression – hello! – and a 20-year-old Cragganmore, the first release of that age from the distillery. It was also an absolute treat to get to sample a 30-year-old Pittyvaich, liquid from the ghost distillery. 

“For those who enjoy spicy flavours, my recommendation would be to try our Cardhu,” Dr Craig Wilson, Diageo’s master blender, who curated the collection, said in a statement. “For those who favour rich, intense and smooth flavours my choice would be Mortlach 21-year-old.”

But enough of the recommendations! Here’s the glorious line-up in full, complete with our tasting notes.

Cardhu 11 Year Old

ABV: 56.0%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From refill, new, and ex-bourbon American oak

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £85

On the nose, this is a pretty juicy, wood-forward wonder, rounded out with loads of green fruit (mouth-watering apple especially), and some boiled sweets – pear drops and rhubarb and custard. On the palate, it’s creamy, buttery and lifted by a smidge of pepper. The finish is long, lingering and warming.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Cragganmore 20 Year Old

ABV: 55.8%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From refill casks and new fresh-charred casks.

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £130

A pretty relaxed dram for the ABV, with banana, pear and vanilla pods on the nose, along with a cedar wood quality. The palate is more savoury than you might think with toasted bread, black pepper and some pecan nuttiness. On the finish, there’s sweet chilli and more toast.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Dalwhinnie 30 Year Old

ABV: 51.9%

Region: Highland

Cask: From refill hogsheads 

Availability: No. bottles available: 6,978

RRSP: £550

A mega-aged Dalwhinnie, often thought of as the gentle dram. And this continues its reputation! The nose is soft, herbal and shortbread-led, while the palate comes through with soft sweet spices – a smidge of cinnamon with a helping of orchard fruit. The finish plays up on the spices.

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Lagavulin 12 Year Old

ABV: 56.4%

Region: Islay

Cask: From refill American oak casks

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide  

RRSP: £125

An earthy delight! This packs an ashy punch, with pronounced smoky notes, but with lashings of boiled sweets, too. It’s lively, packed full of sweet spices, and there’s a vanilla ice cream cone note in with all the medicinal qualities. The finish is super long, with waft after waft of smoke. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Mortlach 21 Year Old

ABV: 56.9%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso Sherry seasoned casks

Availability: No. bottles available: 7,692 

RRSP: £575

According to Dr. Wilson, this is “the Beast of Dufftown tamed”. But fear not – if you like robust whiskies, this still more than stands up. The PX and Oloroso casks preserve the meatiness, while on the palate there are loads of tannins to make the mouth water. The finish is bursting with savoury notes. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Pittyvaich 30 Year Old

ABV: 50.8%

Region: Speyside

Cask: From first-fill ex-bourbon casks

Availability: No. bottles available: 7,056

RRSP: £400

An absolute gem, overflowing with tropical fruits on the nose, plus a linseed oil quality and forest-floor leaves. The palate holds up fruit-wise, with peppery vanilla and a mouth-filling oiliness keeping it complex. While the finish is on the shorter side, it gives a surprisingly spicy warmth. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

Talisker 8 Year Old

ABV: 57.9%

Region: Isle of Skye 

Cask: From pot-still Caribbean rum casks. 

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide 

RRSP: £90

The expression of Special Releases 2020 for us. And the first from the distillery to be matured in ex-pot still Caribbean rum casks! It’s aromatic and smoke-led, but with pear drop, seaweed and even a meatiness on the nose, too. The palate adds in tropical fruit hints and peppery spices, while the finish blends in chilli pepper, too. 

Diageo Special Releases 2020:

The Singleton of Dufftown 17 Year Old

ABV: 55.1%

Region: Highland

Cask: Matured only in refill American oak hogsheads.

Availability: Limited quantities worldwide  

RRSP: £110

A more chilled out expression, but still all-around delicious. The nose is waxy with honeycomb and magnolia vibes, while on the palate there’s a cream soda suggestion, along with British orchard fruits. The medium finish has hints of ginger, too.

What’s on your shopping list? Any expressions you can’t wait to try? Let us know in the comments – and keep an eye on the New Arrivals feed for availability!

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Whisky Advent 2018 Day #3: The Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection

Forget the Monday blues. Drinks by the Dram has a right tasty treat hidden behind door number 3 of the Whisky Advent Calendar! Welcome to the first working day of…

Forget the Monday blues. Drinks by the Dram has a right tasty treat hidden behind door number 3 of the Whisky Advent Calendar!

Welcome to the first working day of Advent 2018! And what a fine pair of drams there were to discover over the weekend. After a corker of a Lost Distilleries Blend on Day 1, there was Starward New World Malt Whisky all the way from Australia on Day 2!

Want to avoid spoilers? Waiting until this evening before you tear open that Advent calendar window? Then consider this fair spoiler alert warning. Because tucked away waiting to be discovered on Advent Day 3 is…

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Introducing: The Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection

Master of Malt meets Malt Master through a new Singleton expression from Dufftown Distillery: The Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection! For us whisky-loving folk, there are few things we…

Master of Malt meets Malt Master through a new Singleton expression from Dufftown Distillery: The Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection!

For us whisky-loving folk, there are few things we adore more than a big product launch to get all excited about. Diageo Reserve observed this fact, and so threw a big event to launch its latest labour of love: The Singleton of Dufftown Malt Master’s Selection!

The label design has been reinvigorated, the palate has been tweaked and the motive is clear: this is a spirit that will try to appeal to a wider, modern and perhaps whisky-shy consumer base. “This isn’t supposed to be patronising – it’s supposed to be welcoming and engaging,” summarised Ervin Trykowski, global Scotch whisky ambassador at Diageo. “It’s supposed to be the opposite of how you’ve talked about Scotch whisky before.”

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Master of Cocktails – Tasting Notes; Reconstructed

Greetings one and all to another edition of #MasterofCocktails. If you didn’t catch last week’s instalment, you might not have seen that we’re changing up how we do this –…

Master of Cocktails Tasting Notes Reconstructed

Greetings one and all to another edition of #MasterofCocktails. If you didn’t catch last week’s instalment, you might not have seen that we’re changing up how we do this – a much less step-by-step affair, though you’ll be getting more advanced, exciting recipes, with more focus on presentation and garnish. This week we’re going to be using the ‘Beast of Dufftown’, Mortlach single malt Scotch whisky.

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Whisky Santa’s Whisky Advent Day 21: Mortlach Rare Old

Time for us all to open the 21st window of our Whisky Advent Calendars! And inside it’s… a new look single malt Scotch whisky from Dufftown in Speyside. A whole…

Mortlach Rare Old

Time for us all to open the 21st window of our Whisky Advent Calendars! And inside it’s… a new look single malt Scotch whisky from Dufftown in Speyside. A whole new expression from Mortlach to be precise, a distillery that was founded back in the 1820s and you may know best from their 16yo ‘Flora & Fauna’ release featuring a Goldeneye duck. (James Pond, anyone?)

With past distillery releases few and far between, Mortlach (or ‘duck massacre’) now has its own shiny new core range! Time to jump in with Rare Old, which has a greater bourbon cask influence than you may expect alongside the more familiar Sherried spirit.

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Caskstrength and Carry On – 3D Whisky

The 11th November 2013 will forever go down in the annals of history as 3D-Day, the day when the chaps off that there Caskstrength.net officially launched their fourth whisky bottling…

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth Christmas Mulled Cup

The 11th November 2013 will forever go down in the annals of history as 3D-Day, the day when the chaps off that there Caskstrength.net officially launched their fourth whisky bottling as well as a piece of cinema that may well prove to be the most significant televisual event since Quantum Leap, and I don’t say that lightly.

A’ was for Arran, ‘B’ was for BenRiach and ‘C’ was for Cutty Sark. That leads us to ‘D’ in Neil and Joel’s epic A-Z series, and why have one ‘D’ when you can have 3? A tremendous blended malt constructed from the Diageo trio of Dailuaine, Dalwhinnie and Dufftown single malts was the result. It’s quite literally 3’D’ malt whisky, and who doesn’t love a bit of 3D?

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Signatory Whisky

  Signatory came up with an excellent game plan: find the best single cask whiskies in Scotland, and package them beautifully. Unsurprisingly, they’ve been very successful.   The range is…

 Signatory Whisky

 

Signatory came up with an excellent game plan: find the best single cask whiskies in Scotland, and package them beautifully. Unsurprisingly, they’ve been very successful.

 

The range is staggeringly large, with an enormous breadth of whiskies from all sorts of Scotch distilleries; some silent, many still up and running, some grain whiskies and some from the most legendary distilleries in the world!

 

There are several different Signatory lines, but the jewel in the crown is the Cask Strength Collection. The range consists of natural cask strength whiskies, almost all of which are from single casks. Every time we’ve tried anything from the range we’ve been consistently delighted, so imagine our joy when a set of 5 samples arrived through the letter box!

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