What makes Diageo’s annual Special Releases unique isn’t that it’s a collection of flashy rare bottles the likes of which you’ve never seen before. On the contrary, what makes these whiskies worth trying is that they’re unique expressions from familiar distilleries, with old favorites like Lagavulin, Talisker, and Oban usually making an appearance. The 2022 edition came out this fall, comprising seven bottles (eight for the UK market) that includes those aforementioned favorites, as well as the addition of one aged single malt making its “Special” debut.
Diageo master blender Dr. Craig Wilson is the brains behind the booze, assembling these cask-strength whiskies (ranging from about 55% to 59% ABV) under the title of “Elusive Expressions.” The bottles’ labels feature artwork from illustrator Ken Taylor and digital visualization artist Kevin Tong, who was inspired by mythical beasts. This isn’t entirely surprising given Diageo’s previous collaboration with HBO on the Game of Thrones-inspired series of single malts.
According to the brand, Wilson has quite a big palette to work with (not to mention his meticulous palate) that includes more than 30 distilleries and somewhere north of 10 million casks aging in warehouses throughout Scotland. So, yeah, that seems like enough whisky to come up with something new each year that could be worth spending a few hundred dollars on. Note that price range, by the way. Instead of thousands per bottle, we’re talking price tags that peak at a few hundred bucks, although some will likely sell for more than that on the secondary market.
So let’s get to the reason why you’re still reading: to learn what these whiskies are actually about.
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