Diageo Special Releases 2016 Drops As Varied Scotch Whisky Crop

By Nino Kilgore-Marchetti / September 27, 2016

In a season for American bourbon drinkers where all the hot, and expensive, fall releases are being cranked out, Diageo is here to remind you it is also time for its Special Releases 2016 run of rare Scotch whiskies. The crop this year is as varied as it has been the last couple years running, with the big highlights being old age statement Brora and Port Ellen bottlings, alongside a single grain whisky four decades old.

Specifics for each whisky below are as presented by Diageo to the press. They are just now starting to come available in overseas markets, and should hit here in the US in the next month or three. Some of these will have very limited distribution domestically given the small numbers made available globally, so if you have a particular favorite make sure to keep that in mind in the coming weeks.

Diageo Special Releases 2016

“The unveiling of the Special Releases range is a moment I look forward to year after year,” said Dr Nick Morgan, head of whisky outreach at Diageo, in a prepared statement. “The variety and quality of whiskies in the collection in simply fantastic, and once again we’re confident enthusiasts will discover new favourites in unusual and rare releases, such as the Mannochmore 25yo, aged in rejuvenated casks and a smooth-textured, complex whisky.”

Auchroisk 25-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: 1990
  • ABV: 51.2%
  • Region: Speyside
  • Bottles available: 3,954
  • Price: £280 (about $365 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “A natural cask strength single malt from Auchroisk, an active distillery on Speyside. A third limited release in this series from a mix of refill American Oak hogsheads & refill European Oak butts filled in 1990. Gloriously fresh and fruity, with a light body and good structure.”
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Brora 38-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: 1977
  • ABV: 48.6%
  • Region: Coastal Highland
  • Bottles available: 2,984
  • Price: £1,450 (about $1,890 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “A superb, well-balanced limited edition natural cask strength single malt. Robust, with breezy maritime notes on the nose. The oldest Brora we have bottled in this series from the closed Brora distillery on the Sutherland coast and aged in refill American Oak hogsheads and refill European Oak butts filled in 1977. This edition has more smoke, ash and peat than recent expressions, while with a drop of water it is also smoothly seductive.”

Cambus 40-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: 1975
  • ABV: 52.7%
  • Region: Central Lowland
  • Bottles available: 1,812
  • Price: £750 (about $980 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “Deceptively complex and fresh for its age, this is an incredibly well-integrated and harmonious (not to mention, very rare) forty-year-old single grain that is light yet sumptuous, fresh and clean. The third single grain whisky to be bottled as a Special Release is at its best with water and with a fine, relaxed finish, it makes an unusual and delicious apéritif.”

Caol Ila 15-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: 2000
  • ABV: 61.5%
  • Region: Islay
  • Bottles available: Limited quantities worldwide
  • Price: £90 (about $120 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “Adopting the forceful style of earlier unpeated expressions, this complex Caol Ila faithfully displays the make’s typical youthful and vibrant DNA as it marries their glorious fruit and hints of smoke and the sea with smooth mature tannins, becoming succulent and softly relaxed with water.”


  • Distilled: N/A
  • ABV: 55.7%
  • Region: Speyside
  • Bottles available: 4,932
  • Price: £400 (about $520 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “Beautifully structured and contemplative, with a soft, sweet nose, this Cragganmore is charming throughout as it shows off the dry distillery character to the full. It has a compellingly intense palate that gradually dries in a clever interplay between oak and malt to a long, warming finish that’s superbly subtle with water. Only 4,932 individually numbered bottles have been produced worldwide.”
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Glenkinchie 24-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: 1991
  • ABV: 57.2%
  • Region: Lowland
  • Bottles available: 5,928
  • Price: £300 (about $390 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “After mellowing in a refill cask to develop the soft distillery character for a decade, a secondary maturation in a specifically chosen Amontillado cask wood ensures that all the good work continues.”

Lagavulin 12-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: N/A
  • ABV: 57.7%
  • Region: Islay
  • Bottles available: limited quantities worldwide
  • Price: £80 (about $105 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “This commemorative 200th Anniversary with a 1816-2016 label is a classic, well-structured Lagavulin that smoke heads will love. Wonderfully smoky, oily and bitter-sweet, pure in style and beautifully balanced with an inspiring sophistication and as much at home with food as after-dinner, being lighter in aroma and texture and less drying than recent expressions. Limited quantities exist worldwide.”

Linkwood 37-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: 1978
  • ABV: 50.3%
  • Region: Speyside
  • Bottles available: 6,114
  • Price: £600 (about $780 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “A delightfully clean and light Linkwood, both elegant and stylish: the epitome of Speyside ‘finesse’. Displaying typical fresh fruit and floral characters in its slow desire to be approachable, the nose yet gives no hint to the wonderful elegance and complexity evident on the palate and in the finish of this sophisticated malt. Only 6,114 individually numbered bottles exist worldwide.”

Mannochmore 25-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: 1990
  • ABV: 53.4%
  • Region: Speyside
  • Bottles available: 3,954
  • Price: £250 (about $325 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “An unusually rich Mannochmore that makes a highly competent and self-assured digestif at natural strength, yet reveals more complex depths with water. Perfectly mature yet retaining its distillery character, it’s a consummate study in appetising, charred bitter-sweet pungency. Only 3,954 individually numbered bottles available world-wide, from specialist retailers only.”
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Port Ellen 37-Year-Old:

  • Distilled: 1978
  • ABV: 55.2%
  • Region: Islay
  • Bottles available: 2,940
  • Price: £2,500 (about $3,250 USD)
  • Tasting notes: “A self-assured, well-integrated and hugely complex Port Ellen in which subtlety is all, with an effortless balance of sweet fruit notes, deeper sapid tones, citrus, honey, smoke, fire and oak, this is the oldest Port Ellen ever released, and in the words of one taster ‘these old Port Ellens get better and better!’. Only 2,940 individually numbered bottles exist world-wide.”