Rare beauty: Why Scotch should be savoured in special moments

Words by
Joel Harrison

16th June 2021

With spirits from Port Ellen and The Singleton through to Mortlach and Jonnie Walker, see how standout expressions offer an exceptional way to experience Scotch whisky

Rare and exceptional Scotch whisky is the ultimate way to mark a special event. With each distillery in Scotland producing a unique style of whisky, there will always be something for you to choose within the spectrum of Scotch with which to toast that special moment.

Take the rare whisky from the Port Ellen distillery. Located on the Isle of Islay, off the western coast of Scotland, Port Ellen distillery closed in 1983, leaving the remaining stocks as rarities. “We simply did not know how well these stocks would age,” says Dr Craig Wilson, the Master Blender with the task of selecting from the dwindling historic casks of Port Ellen.

And this is evident in the Port Ellen 9 Rogue Casks release, where a small parcel of just nine casks from the distillery, using whisky distilled in 1979 and aged for 40 years in cask, have been brought together in one expression to showcase the mellowness that maturation can bring to whisky. “These nine casks have matured excellently and provide a different side of Port Ellen, away from the big peat smoke for which it has become famous to something a little more delicate,” Dr Wilson explains.

The other side of single malt Scotch is showcased in the Singleton 38-Year-Old. Distilled in the Speyside region, the heartland of the Highlands, this whisky has been double matured, with a rich note of Christmas cake, dried fruits and soft spices. For a bolder alternative from the same region, the Mortlach 21-Year-Old Special Releases 2020 is a big, oily dram that warms the soul. Both are perfect examples of the classic unpeated Speyside style.

“There are two different sides of the famous Speyside style in the Singleton and the Mortlach,” explains Tod Bradbury, Head of Rare & Collectible Spirits at Justerini & Brooks, the St James’s-based, Royal Warrant-holding fine wine and spirits merchants. “The Singleton unlocks the depth of character we expect in a Scotch aged for so long. This is counterbalanced by the Mortlach, which has a unique 2.81 times distilled spirit and draws exceptional stone fruit notes from maturation in sherry casks.” 

With such a selection of mature whisky from a wide variety of distilleries available, Diageo has reserved some of its best stocks for its flagship John Walker & Sons Bicentenary Blend. Released this year to mark 200 years since John Walker started to sell his renowned blend, the whiskies chosen for this bottling have been carefully curated by the Johnnie Walker Master Blender, resulting in a rich, smooth and drinkable whisky perfect for any celebration.

“The Bicentenary blend delivers a light body, but gives rich ginger, cloves and figs with just a hint of smoke on the palate,” Bradbury says. “Truly, a whisky the Walker dynasty would be proud of.” 


Diageo is one of the official partners of Sphere's summer 2021 issue. diageo.com