Taste Review #76 – Collectivum XXVIII
One of the things I’ve never done yet on my whisky journey is open up a Diageo Special Release. I’m lucky enough to have 4 in my remote store, three Convalmore (27, 32 and 36 year olds) and the whisky I am about to review today, Collectivum XXVIII. Not exactly a whisky title that trips off the tongue, although a little bit easier than some of the Gaelic names used. This release is the first time that Diageo has released a blend as part of the Special Releases, so hopefully it is a whisky that deserves to have its place in the range.
So why the strange name? Well this isn’t a blend like any other, it’s a blend of all 28 of Diageo’s Scottish Malt Whisky distilleries. Yup, can you believe there are 28? Well there are and for the record here are their names….
Auchroisk, Benrinnes, Blair Athol, Caol Ila, Cardhu, Clynelish, Cragganmore, Dailuaine, Dalwhinnie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glen Elgin, Glenkinchie, Glenlossie, Glen Ord, Glen Spey, Inchgower, Knockando, Lagavulin, Linkwood, Mannochmore, Mortlach, Oban, Roseisle, Royal Lochnagar, Strathmill, Talisker and Teaninich.
Boy! That was quite a challenge! I spent 10 minutes by my hotel poolside whilst in isolation to get them all, but forgot Cardhu. Most of these malts have featured in at least one series of whiskies featured by Diageo or its predecessors, covering the Classic Malts, The Singleton whiskies or the Flora and Fauna range. The main exception is Roseisle, which is a distillery that produces malt for blending and has never had an official release yet.
The box is well presented with the details of all the distilleries. The bottle is well presented being crisp, clear and free of any excess decoration – the sort of things that appeal to me. But what is this behemoth of a blend going to reveal to us? It’s time to crack on and find out.
Region – Blend Age – n/a Strength – 57.3% Colour -Amber (0.7) Cask Type – n/a Colouring – not stated Chill Filtered – No Nose – waxy, ginger, leather, smoke, honey Palate – Quite hot neat. Need to add water. Coats mouth and reveals a creamy sweetness. Aniseed, leather, stewed apples, black pepper corns, spicy wood. Slight astringency. Balanced well with peat and smoke in the background.- Finish – medium to long. Wood spices, nutmeg, apple peel, smoke
With so many things going on in this glass it is impossible to identify each individual distillery. The waxy quality makes me think of Clynelish, the smokey and peat make me think of Lagavulin and Talisker. I think to truly enjoy this malt you need to switch off and not analyse it, but just accept it as it is.
The one thing I’ll have to highlight straight away is don’t dismiss this as ‘just a blend’. I kind of made that schoolboy error and attempted to drink this dram undiluted. It wasn’t so much as a contempt for the dram, but I figured I’ve managed Clearic in the past, plus Polish Bimber and lived to tell the tale. Big mistake. There is quite a strong bite to this dram and water will only enhance your experience. Using a pipette, add a few drops of water to break through the complexity layer by layer and you will be rewarded.
Can you taste any of the distilleries in here? No. You can taste elements and hazard a guess but for me when I was attempting to do so spoilt the experience so I gave up. It had been a hectic week when I tasted it so perhaps I was just a bit overloaded. But this is a wonderfully complex dram, with a gentle and gradual application of a few drops of water opening up the whisky like a budding flower. Overall, well balanced and a good sipper.
Being a Special Release there will be limited amounts of this in circulation. Although I have not seen anything confirmed, Special Releases tend not to have much more than 7500 units or less. It cost £150 on release and can be found online at Amazon.co.uk for £124.70 at the time of writing. Specialist retailers may have some available or you can find it on auction sites at the moment around £100-£120. Of course, I didn’t open my stored one, but picked up one at auction for £118 all in.
If you can afford it, it is a worthwhile one to have and while I don’t want to comment on its collectibility, it certainly is a talking point for any collection. The fuss free box and bottle presentation seal the deal for me. While I recommend you try this, the numbers available will be on the steady decline. I suspect a lot of these have been opened out of curiosity, so if you know a friend that has one, perhaps see if they would be benevolent enough to let you try.
Yours In Spirits
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All Photos – Authors Own