Each year brings a new Diageo Special Releases Whisky Collection, eight cask strength single malt Scotch whiskies from some of Scotland’s most renowned distilleries. In 2019, we saw the release of their ‘Rare by Nature’ series, a collection celebrating the wildlife, surroundings, and natural history of each of the distilleries. The collection was curated by Master Blender Dr. Craig Wilson. Each individual bottling is decorated with the most beautiful hand painted illustrations by artist Charlotte Day, telling the story of each malt’s characteristics and the incredible wildlife surrounding its production.
And so to celebrate World Wildlife Day, we thought we’d showcase a few of these exquisite bottles and the flora and fauna associated with them. We have also done a wee bit of research into each of the wildlife itself, so read on for some fun facts this Wildlife Day!
You can purchase these bottles on our website here.
Cragganmore 12 year old – So you think you know Cragganmore and its smooth Speyside character? Think again – this exceptional single malt is a rare, medium peated, lightly smoky cask-strength expression. The ethereal aromas found in the whisky can be described as some of the most complex to be found in any malt, making it a perfect match to the ‘ghostly flight of the Barn Owl as it quarters the twilight Speyside glens in search of its prey’. A truly exquisite whisky.
Barn Owl Fun Fact – Did you know, barn owls usually hunt at night in complete darkness. Due to their super-sensitive hearing and large eyes, they can find even the smallest of prey with ease.
Singleton of Glen Ord 18 year old – This Singleton of Glen Ord expression has matured for a full eighteen years and combines the distillery’s smooth character with intense spices. This makes it particularly rich and fruity, with a character so lively and vigorous it matches the excitement of the leaping salmon in the fast-flowing rivers of the Highlands of Scotland. A far as gifts go, this is the catch of the day.
Salmon Fun Fact – Salmon can be very large fish, they can grow up to a metre in length and weigh up to 40kg!
Mortlach 26 year old – Called the Beast of Dufftown for its robust, umami-rich character, little known Mortlach may be the best kept secret in Scotch. This expression gains its bold flavours from its maturation in first-fill Pedro Ximenes / Oloroso-seasoned casks, distinguishing it as the monarch of the glen as surely as the bellow of a mature red deer stag.
Stag Fun Fact – Did you know that when Scotland’s largest species of deer shed their old antlers, new ones will start to grow, although, this can be a very energy-intensive activity and no wonder, it can’t be easy growing antlers!
Dalwhinnie 30 year old – You’d be mad as a March hare to miss out on this beautifully packaged single malt from the highest distillery in Scotland. Dalwhinnie is a real mountain malt and it is as well adapted to the harsh climates of its desolate location as the mountain hares are to the surrounding hills. This extra-mature and gentle malt has rich flavours from over thirty years of maturation.
March Hare Fun Fact – If you are lucky enough to spot a March hare in the wild, it won’t stay around for long. With the ability to run up to 45mph these creatures are well equipped for their habitat in harsh, mountainous conditions.
Talisker 15 year old – This edition is the first ever-release of a 15 year old Talisker matured in freshly charred American oak. The oldest of the Isle of Skye’s distilleries and created by the character of the sea, very much like the beds that teem with life in the clear waters of the island’s west coast. If they say that the pearl is the ‘Queen of the Gems’ then Talisker is the ‘King o’drinks’ – a match made in heaven.
Oysters Fun Fact – Did you know, oysters are incredible filters. They filter-feed the passing seawater and help clean up the toxins in the sea. A single oyster can filter up to 240 litres of sea water each day!
Lagavulin 12 year old – Lagavulin is an iconic Islay malt, its intense and smoky spirit is steeped in history for over 200 years. Nestled in a rocky bay still dominated by a ruined castle that was once home to the Lords of the Isles, it’s as timeless as the white-tailed eagle that soars high above the sea and nearby shore. This edition really is an Islay enthusiast’s dream.
White-tailed eagle Fun Fact – In flight, the white-tailed eagle (Britain’s largest bird of prey) can be seen with its massive, finger-ended wings that span almost two and a half metres
And also in the collection are:
Cardhu 14 year old – This clean, elegant and perfectly poised Cardhu release has beautiful tones of floral sweetness along with a richer, spicier aftertones. A busy and generous whisky, this Queen of Speyside is well matched to the bustling bees that pollinate the hillside heather beside the distillery in the long summer months.
Bee Fun Fact – Did you know, there are actually 24 species of bumblebee in the UK and you can find 19 of those species right here in Scotland. The two most common species are the buff-tail and northern white-tail bumblebees.
Pittyvaich 29 year old – An elusive whisky, this Pittyvaich has been drawn from the last remaining stocks of the liquid and is the first ever to be finished in first-fill ex-bourbon casks. With exotic, rich vanilla dram is a contrast to the light and fruity flavours of this more obscure Speyside gem. Pittyvaich is a ‘ghost’ distillery that was in production until 1993, and whose buildings have long since vanished. Its stock is dwindling and rare to behold, much like the shy capercaillie bird, which is only occasionally spotted in Scottish pine forests.
Capercaillie Fun Facts – The capercaillie actually became extinct throughout the UK in the 1700’s, due to loss of their natural woodland habitat. The birds were reintroduced to Perthshire in 1837 from Sweden and the population was able to grow again – it is thought there are around 1000 in Scotland.
We hope this has given you a wee insight into this fantastic collection as well as a few interesting wildlife facts – slàinte mhath!