Diageo Delights

Diageo didn't get their big single malt shipment over to California in time for the holidays, but that's fine with us because we didn't need any booze than we already had! January is the perfect time to allow these fan favorites to trickle in and slowly make their way onto our shelves. Bottles like the new classic malt distiller's editions, limited releases from distilleries like Port Ellen and Talisker, and new expressions like the Oban Little Bay pictured above, will all be available before the month is over. These two lovely labels above are actually available now, as well as a number of older Talisker whiskies which you can find on our website.

Oban Little Bay Limited Edition Single Malt Whisky $72.99 - It's not often we see the classic malts of Diageo expand into new releases of their iconic whiskies, but the Oban Little Bay marks that very occasion. Aged in smaller casks to increase the ratio of wood to whisky, the influence is perceptible in the weight of the Little Bay and not so much the flavor (which is a welcome relief!). There is no toasty quarter cask flavor, but rather a soft and supple nose of stonefruit and a rounded, mellow mouthful of dried apricots with just a bit of phenolics on the finish. Those looking for bold flavor should look towards Lagavulin or the other Diageo classic malts because this is yet another gentle dram from Oban; as it should be.

Lagavulin 12 Year Old 2014 Edition Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky $105.99 - Lagavulin's string of 12 year old releases has always begged the question from consumers: why is the 12 year old forty dollars more than the older 16 year expression? Good question! For one, the Lagavulin 16 is made in gigantic quantities and sold in every liquor store from San Francisco to Shanghai, making it a competitively-priced product. On top of that, the 12 year old is bottled at cask strength and not produced in nearly as high of a volume. Fans of the distillery have long lusted for a higher-proofed version of their beloved Islay legend, and Diageo has sought to pacify that demand with the lovely 12 year expression. The 2014 release is bottled at 54.4% and is a golden straw color. The nose is simply perfect: smoke, salted caramel, vanilla, and the sea. The palate lives up to the aromas and explodes with campfire smoke, nougat, white pepper, and medicinal peat notes that linger for minutes after you've coated your stomach with warmth. Tasting the 12 next to the 16, there's no doubt as to why one is more expensive than the other. Yet more proof that age can be incredibly deceiving.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll