Rare By Nature: 2020 Special Releases Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection

Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

Diageo has recently released their Rare By Nature: 2020 Special Releases Single Malt Scotch Whiskey Collection, a selection of some of their finest, which comes in 8 different bottles, from the Caribbean pot still rum cask finished Talisker 8 Years to the ultra-rare Pittyvaich 30 Years, drawing from some of Scotland’s most renown distilleries.

Diageo Rare Single Malt Whiskey Collection

For 2020, Diageo has released their much awaited collection of unusual vintages, experimental maturation and first pot-still Caribbean rum cask ageing. Each release of the 8 releases are different vintages to their more commonly known labels, and therefore tastes quite different from what you know, complete with intricately designed bottles.

“I’ve created this 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,” — Dr. Craig Wilson, Diageo Master Blender.

Talisker 8 Years Old | Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

Talisker 8 Year Old

ABV: 57.9%
Region: Isle of Sky
Place of Origin: Cabost
Distillation Year: 2011
Cask: From refill casks, then finished in pot-still Caribbean rum casks
Tasting Notes: Deep, caramel aromas are balanced by sea salt, dry seaweed and warm sand on a smoky barbecue base. The texture is smooth, the taste hugely rich and sweet before the classic Talisker heat builds with a dash of salt and chilli pepper to a smoky, peppery and drying finish.

The 8 Year Talisker had an interesting saltiness at the tip of the palate and sweetness, perhaps from the Caribbean rum cask finish, but not overtly strong. Definitely one for the rum cask fans.

Cardhu 11 Year Old | Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

Cardhu 11 Year Old

ABV: 56.0%
Region: Speyside
Place of Origin: Knockando
Distillation Year: 2008
Cask: Refill casks and new ex-bourbon American oak hogsheads
Tasting Notes: 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.

Smooth on the palate, almost silky, with a lean towards spiciness, the Cardhu was one of our favourites from the tasting, with that expected notes you’d find with ex-bourbon casks. Although spicy, the bite isn’t too intense, which works with a splash of water to open it up.

Lagavulin 12 Year Old | Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

Lagavulin 12 Year Old

ABV: 56.4%
Region: Islay
Place of Origin: Port Ellen
Distillation Year: 2007
: From refill hogsheads and butts selected for quality alone
Tasting Notes: The aromas of this modern day King of Islay are elusive, until familiar hints of ash and linseed oil emerge. A light fruity note follows, as does a clean, fresh whiff of the sea, like breathing in the air of Lagavulin bay. The texture is smooth, the big taste sweeter than expected, intense and deeply smoky, with a long and commanding finish.

As expected from a Lagavulin with that unmistakable peatiness that it’s so well known for. This release has the smoothness and intensity that is perfect for seasoned whiskey drinkers, especially for those who like smokiness in their dram.

The Singleton 17 Year Old | Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

The Singleton 17 Year Old

ABV: 55.1%
Region: Speyside
Place of Origin: Dufftown
Distillation Year: 2002
Cask: First ever release from 100% refill American oak hogsheads
Tasting Notes: The mellow aromas mark this as a classic Speyside malt, with a first sweet impression of honeycomb and beneath, a floral note of dry grasses with hints of fruit on an earthy base. The texture is creamy-smooth and coating, while the taste is sweet, rich and perfectly balanced. There is a warming, drying finish, with a peppery spiciness.

An unusual release by The Singleton, the 17 Years was much spicier than its cousins, this expression also had a grassier note. Still fairly creamy, with a deep mellowed sweetness, which changes quite a bit once it is allowed to open with a dash of water.

Cragganmore 20 Year Old | Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

Cragganmore 20 Year Old

ABV: 55.8%
Region: Speyside
Place of Origin: Ballindalloch
Distillation Year: 1999
Cask: From refill and new fresh-charred American oak hogsheads
Tasting Notes: Showing the sweet and spicy effects of part maturation in new oak, this expression explores the woods just as deeply. The mellow nose is sweet overall, 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.

The Cragganmore had notes of pear and some woodiness to it, with an almost nuttiness on the palate reminiscent of almonds and spicy vanilla. We quite enjoyed the long finish that had a certain sharpness to it.

Mortlach 21 Year Old | Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

Mortlach 21 Year Old

ABV: 56.9%
Region: Speyside
Place of Origin: Dufftown
Distillation Year: 1999
Cask: Finished in fresh-toasted Pedro Ximenez & Oloroso-seasoned casks
Tasting Notes: The aromas run deep, swirling with dark dried fruits and savory, meaty notes. The texture is supersmooth, the intense taste is sweet with rich fruit and cured ham, building to a lingering spicy-dryness. Long and impressive, the finish truly emphasizes this harmony of sweetness and spice, leaving the palate dry in a glorious afterglow.

The Mortlach had aromas of prunes and dried figs, with a decently full bodied mouthfeel. Hints of mandarin which were noted with a round and robust mouthfeel, with hints of cacao, this whiskey had a long finish.

Dalwhinnie 30 Year Old | Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

Dalwhinnie 30 Year Old

ABV: 51.9%
Region: Highland
Place of Origin: Dalwhinnie
Distillation Year: 1989
Cask: From refill American Oak hogsheads
Tasting Notes: The aroma is gentle; 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.

As with highly aged whiskeys, the Dalwhinnie was more gentle on the palate, with hints of mellow tobacco and cigar. There was a certain greenness to this expression, despite it being aged for 30 years, with elements of mild black pepper. This dram had a long finish.

Pittyvaich 30 Year Old | Rare By Nature - Diageo 2020 Special Release | Food For Thought

Pittyvaich 30 Year Old

ABV: 50.8%
Region: Speyside
Place of Origin: Dufftown (closed distillery)
Distillation Year: 1989
: Matured in refill and finished in first-fill ex-bourbon casks
Tasting Notes: Aromas of sweet oak, delicate ripe fruitiness and dried flowers leap from the glass. The texture is 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.

This expression comes from a ‘ghost’ malt distillery, meaning a distillery that is no longer around, the Pittyvaich is unique in the sense that they no longer exist. With notes of tropical fruits like ripe pineapple and toasted bread, the dram is slightly oily on the palate with a hint of cinnamon. Medium finish. A ghost of a bottle that is good for the collector.

Rare By Nature: 2020 Special Releases Collection

“The 2020 Special Releases Collection is the result of our Master Blender’s deep thought-process to showcase the taste of Scotland through eight single malt whiskies, each boasting a unique cask strength. Once again, Diageo brings the depth and intricacy of flavours to the forefront in this range of whiskies, delighting and exciting whisky enthusiasts with distinct taste notes that showcase each distillery’s nature of rarity,” — Rajesh Joshi, Marketing Director of Diageo Malaysia.

The 2020 Special Releases Collection is available in limited quantities. Whisky enthusiasts can purchase the collection by contacting Moet Hennessy Diageo Malaysia at diageoinfo@mhdm.com.my.

For more Drink reviews, see Drink.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

One Comment

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