We present you the first look at the Diageo Special Releases 2023. This post has now been updated to reflect the final details.
This year’s collection, titled Spirited Xchange, is designed to celebrate the global nature and influences of Scotch whisky. It is the first Special Releases collection from Diageo master blender Dr Stuart Morrison and comprises eight single malts from the company’s malts portfolio.
Last year’s Elusive Expressions theme featuring mythical creatures makes place for a series of worldwide inspirations and local traditions. There’s an afro jazz theme, oriental ornaments from nature, Inca tattoos, Brazilian carnival, Japanese samurai, etc.
Very lively illustrations with bright, almost flashy colours. Slightly incohesive in style though, which is not unsurprising since each expression features bespoke label art created by a different global artist.
Eight Special Releases for 2023
Eight Special Releases have been unveiled. Hardly any vintage statements (if any).
The Special Releases series is continuing its path, focused on natural cask strength whisky from unusual parcels or casks. There’s tequila añejo, Chardonnay de Bourgogne, Kanosuke and Pinot Noir casks for instance. While most whisky lovers see this as a decline, making the series less special, it’s just a change of concept (and making place for the Prima & Ultima releases).
All single malts are between 10 years and 14 years old, the exception being a 27 year old Glenkinchie single malt whisky. The most surprising member is probably the 12 year old Roseisle expression.
“The Jazz Crescendo” – € 205
A 10 year-old version matured exclusively in first-fill bourbon American oak casks. Natural Clynelish, good choice. Bottled at 57.5% ABV (natural cask strength, like all Special Releases).
Glenkinchie 27 Year Old
“The Floral Treasure” – € 410
The oldest Special Release this year: Glenkinchie at 27 years of age, nicknamed The Edinburgh Malt on the label. It aged in refill American barrels and European oak butts. One of the bottlings I’m most excited about. Bottled at 58.3% ABV.
“The Ink of Legends” – € 195
A classic member of the Special Releases. This year Diageo uses its other brands to come up with a Don Julio Añejo Tequila casks. A lot of tequila finishes lately. Bottled at 56.4% ABV.
Oban 11 Year Old
“The Soul of Calypso” – € 175
More Oban, yay! In 2023 they use Caribbean pot still rum casks for finishing. I’m not sure what to expect from the combination of this maritime malt and a sweet rum finish, but let’s not jump to conclusions. This year it comes at 58% ABV.
“The Origami Kite”
What? Who could have thought Roseisle would become a part of the Special Releases? This release comes from the early days of production. It comes from first-fill ex-bourbon and refill casks, which should give us a fairly natural view of the spirit. However, Roseisle was designed to produce a wide range of characters, so we’re keen to find out what it’s like. Bottled at 56.5% ABV.
“The Wild Explorador”
Matured in a combination of white, tawny and ruby Port barrels. It is supposed to be a full-on Talisker with robust flavours and a subtle finishing. Bottled at 59.7% ABV.
Singleton of Glendullan 14 Year Old
“The Silken Gown” – € 155
From Glendullan distillery comes this Singleton 14 Years. It is finished in Chardonnay de Bourgonge French oak casks and bottled at 55% ABV. Wine casks, often tricky, but white wine should be interesting.
“The Katana’s Edge” – € 305
Mortlach without an age statement again. It uses a combination of ex-Kanosuke Japanese whisky casks and ex-Pinot Noir casks. Such an unusual proposition! High strength (58% ABV).
Special Releases 2023 prices
The Special Releases 2023 prices have now been added after the official announcement. For me it sounds crazy that a 12 year-old Lagavulin costs almost € 200 and a 10 year-old Clynelish even more. Especially in comparison to a 27 year-old Glenkinchie for around € 400, which sounds more reasonable. Like last year, a couple of whiskies will be available in 20 cl bottles as well.
The official release date is October 4th, but the collection can be discovered online on October 1st. Keep an eye on malts.com. Later the bottles will arrive at retailers accross the globe.