Ghost distilleries and history revisited – Diageo releases two ultra-rare Scotch whiskies into travel retail
Diageo is to release two exceptional limited-edition whisky releases from Johnnie Walker and ghost distillery Port Ellen in global travel retail.
A limited number of bottles of the recently launched Johnnie Walker Master’s Ruby Reserve 40-Year-Old and Port Ellen 40-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky will be made available in select airport stores from October 2020. The UK (domestic) RRP is £15,000 (US$20,000).
As reported, Johnnie Walker unveiled Master’s Ruby Reserve earlier this year to celebrate Master Blender Dr Jim Beveridge’s 40th anniversary at Diageo. Beveridge crafted the blend from some of the finest Scotch in the Johnnie Walker reserves, selecting eight “exceptionally rare” whiskies that evoked his earliest whisky-making memories. These have married to create a unique Scotch that provides a window into the Master Blender’s distinguished career, Diageo said.
Dr Beveridge, working closely with his team of whisky makers, chose whiskies from the ‘ghost’ distilleries of Cambus, Carsebridge, Pittyvaich and Port Ellen, all balanced with highly aged expressions from Talisker, Royal Lochnagar, Glendullan and Cragganmore. All the whiskies used to create Johnnie Walker Master’s Ruby Reserve are at least 40 years old. Just 398 bottles are available worldwide.
Port Ellen revealed its own rare whisky in May, Port Ellen 40-Year-Old: 9 Rogue Casks. This is one of the oldest and rarest releases ever to be made available direct from the distillery, and the second release in the collectable Port Ellen Untold Stories Series that explores the story of the distillery’s past ahead of its return. The UK (domestic) RRP is £6,500 (US$8,700).
Port Ellen was distilled for just 16 of the last 90 years, and no casks have been produced since its closure in 1983, making the original dwindling stocks finite and rare.
Master Blender Dr Craig Wilson selected nine special casks from the original stock, each identifiably Port Ellen but with its own defining character. These were blended to showcase “a new dimension of Port Ellen unlike any before”, Diageo said.
“With only 1,380 bottles available worldwide it is one of the last chances to own a part of Port Ellen’s history,” the company commented.
Johnnie Walker Master’s Ruby Reserve 40-Year-Old
RRP UK (duty paid): £15,000 (US$20,000)
Bottle size: 70cl
ABV: Cask Strength 43%
Tasting Notes (Source: Diageo)
- Nose: Rich layers of treacle toffee from Cambus, caramelised apple and autumnal soft fruit from Pittyvaich, before waves of dark chocolate, plums and cherries slowly unfold. Notes of dark fruits from Royal Lochnagar and Cragganmore combine with pink peppercorn spice and sea salt.
- Palate: Incredibly full-bodied and rich. Initial layers of Talisker and Port Ellen’s warming maritime smoke combine with cocoa nibs, perfectly balanced by the berries and currants of Glendullan and Carsebridge. Notes of caramelised apples, pears and maraschino cherries.
- Finish: A long lingering finish of pepper and demerara sugars.
Port Ellen 40-Year-Old
RRP UK (duty paid): £6,500 (US$8,700).
Bottle size: 70cl
ABV: Cask Strength 50.9%
- Nose: Delicate, grassy/herbal, burnt tangerine skin, very mild smoke at cask strength, opens up a little with the addition of water, crème caramel/roasted coffee, red fruit compote, ripe peach skin
- Palate: Much more pronounced bonfire smoke, pipe tobacco, leather, wood spice
- Finish: Long, wispy smoke finish
Footnote: As reported, Diageo Global Travel is a Platinum Partner for the highly anticipated Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo in October.
The maker of Johnnie Walker, Port Ellen and an eclectic range of brands across multiple categories will be showcasing its spirits category strategy at the Expo. “Diageo will share the consumer-centric growth levers that can drive market share and premiumisation, as well as plans to accelerate the development of an omnichannel retail ecosystem,” the company said.