If it is already so deeply satisfying to own something precious that only a handful of others do, imagine being the sole owner of something that can never be reproduced. That’s exactly what Diageo wants to offer the most ardent of whisky connoisseurs. Established in 2017, the Casks of Distinction programme is a curated selection of rare single malt casks taken from a number of Diageo’s distilleries and made available for purchase to its private clients.
“The purest way to appreciate a ﬁne, old single malt Scotch whisky, is directly from the cask, at cask strength,” says Craig Wilson, Diageo’s Master of Malts. So from Diageo’s portfolio of 28 operating distilleries and 11 “ghost” distilleries, in-house experts single out casks that are exceptional enough to stand on their own. “Each cask is entirely unique, a moment of distilling history captured in liquid form. A single malt, from a single distillery, distilled on a single day, that has been nurtured and matured in a single cask for its entire life.”
The 2018 batch, now available to the Singapore market, includes casks from popular distilleries like Talisker, Caol Ila and Lagavulin, lesser-known gems like Knockando and Benrinnes, and closed distilleries like the legendary Port Ellen, Brora and Pittyvaich.
After purchase, the casks will continue to mature in Scotland until the buyer decides – under advisement from a master distiller – when it’s time for bottling. Bottles drawn from these casks will be serialised and hallmarked with the client’s signature of choice. Interested enthusiasts can get in touch with the Johnnie Walker House Private Suite by writing to email@example.com or visiting www.johnniewalkerhouse.com.
01 A BARREL TO CALL YOUR OWN
Diageo private clients can opt to buy an entire cask for bottling.
02 WAITING GAME
Once bought, the single malt stays in Scotland until it matures.
03 ONE FROM THE STABLE
The cask is sourced from Diageo’s 39 distilleries.
Figuring out how whisky will react to a particular wine cask requires a lot of trial and error, which is one of the reasons why bourbon casks are still the popular choice among whisky makers. But Bowmore has ﬁgured out at least three matches that work, and is celebrating the effort with the Vintner’s Trilogy. The ﬁrst is the 18 Year Old Double Matured Manzanilla, where maturation in both ex-bourbon and ex-manzanilla sherry casks gives the spirit aromas of salted caramel and stone fruits and a bit of smoke on the palate. The 26 Year Old Wine Matured follows with its full body and burnt amber colour, courtesy of the time spent in bourbon barrels and wine barriques. Last but not least, the 27 Year Old is a double-matured whisky (13 years in bourbon casks, 14 in port pipes) with a peaty character underpinned by sugarplums and leather.
Given how Dom Perignon releases only vintages, it seemed as though the 2008 didn’t make the cut when the 2007 vintage was followed by the release of the 2009 two years ago. Turns out all the 2008 needed was a little more time for its personality to develop, and it’s one you’ll want to get to know. The luminous bouquet opens with all the freshness of spring – think white flowers, citrus fruit, mint and aniseed – before giving way to spicier, woody notes. The palate perfectly balances fruitiness with acidity, with an aromatic finish. The first vintage to be released out of sequence also happens to be the last vintage produced with Richard Geoffroy as chef de cave. Vincent Chaperon, who has worked closely with Geoffroy since 2005, has succeeded him this January.
Unlike certain styles of wines and whiskies, gin is relatively free from regulation and stuffy heritage, which is what gives The Kyoto Distillery the freedom to experiment. After the success of its flagship Ki No Bi Dry Gin featuring Japanese botanicals, high-proof Ki No Bi “Sei” and whisky cask-aged Ki Noh Bi, the inventive distillers have recently announced Ki No Bi Edition G, the world’s first gin to be matured in champagne barriques. The casks, made from wood sourced from the Argonne Forest in Champagne, are supplied by champagne house Henri Giraud. The limited quantities first released in Japan were sold out within a day, but we can expect a global release by the third quarter of this year.
TEXT CHARMIAN LEONG