This is my second review of the Diageo Special Releases 2011 (see here for the floral Rosebank).
Grain whisky has been an important discovery for me. Alongside rye whiskey, grain has opened up a completely new style of whisky to my palate. For the uninitiated grain whisky is made from unmalted grain, whereas single malt whisky is made from malted barley. Grain whisky can be distilled in pot or coffey stills, and has a sweeter flavour to malt whiskies. My awakening to grain was at the hands of the sublime Compass Box Hedonism, a syrupy dram that is just fantastic. Grain whisky is often under-represented as the vast majority of the product is used for blended whiskies, and hence is much under-appreciated.
Tonight's review is of the first ever Diageo Special Release grain whisky from the closed distillery at Port Dundas, that like most Scottish grain distilleries, was in the Lowland region. It was closed in 2009 when Diageo grain whisky production shifted to Cameron Bridge and North British distilleries. This release is 100% grain whisky and the oldest official release, blended from three casks distilled in 1990 and matured in a combination of casks. This was to be a bit of a treat.
57.4% - 20 Years Old - 1,920 Numbered Bottles Worldwide
Nose: Cherry leaps out of the glass with dark chocolate chasing behind in a combination much like the Green & Black's Cherry Chocolate. There is a real leatheryness to the nose with a grassy freshness mingling in. On a second take sawdust announces itself ever so politely.
Palate: Pepper and tobacco swirl around in a spicy waltz on a vanilla dance floor. Syrupy if a little too hot on the alcohol, water improves this dram.
Finish: Light yet vast, chocolate eclairs galore with a touch of aniseed.
Overall: Very good, a lot of complexity and depth here. I felt this whisky didn't need to be cask strength though, still with water, amazing.