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These sets of single malt Scotch whiskies are so rare, you’ll need to register your interest to procure one

The first numbered edition of the Prima & Ultima Collection by Diageo Rare and Exceptional was already auctioned off at Sotheby’s.

These sets of single malt Scotch whiskies are so rare, you’ll need to register your interest to procure one

A library of liquid gold: The Auchroisk, Lagavulin, Linkwood, Singleton, Talisker, Brora, Mortlach and Convalmore. Photos: Diageo Rare and Exceptional

When we speak of an exceptional experience, it often entails storytelling. An architect may reveal his influences through a lobby, or a chef his hometown through his choice of ingredients and techniques. The result is an evocative journey that either brings one new discoveries or unearths familiar memories from within.

In the same way, the Prima & Ultima Second Release Collection by Diageo Rare and Exceptional is telling a treasure of a tale. It’s a liquid library of eight bottles of ultra-rare vintage single malts from Diageo’s historic stock of its finest distilleries, gathered for a limited release of 376 full sets globally.

With each bottle being either a first or last of its kind from high-sought reserves, connoisseurs and collectors alike will appreciate the vivid retelling of the casks the spirits have emerged from. And with the youngest bottle at least 25 years old, imagine the stories those sips will tell.

A DISTINGUISHED EYE

The Prima & Ultima Second Release continues Diageo’s curated storytelling after a celebrated launch of its first collection a year ago. Featuring first- and last cask-strength bottlings of single malt whisky from distinguished Scottish distilleries such as Talisker, Mortlach, The Singleton of Glendullan, and Brora, the release benefits from the esteemed nose, palate and mind of Diageo's master blender Maureen Robinson.

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Diageo's master blender Maureen Robinson with the rare vintage single malts.

 

“This is a selection of very special single malts – some that have never before seen the light of day and others that are the fleeting and final examples of their kind,” said Robinson.

With the Second Release, Robinson has hand-selected some of the most exquisite casking highlights of her illustrious 40 years at Diageo.

I remember choosing to hold back the cask filled at Auchroisk, knowing it would be special for the future, and the anticipation and excitement of the maturation trials we undertook with Linkwood and The Singleton, now realised in these releases,” she recalled. “Some of these casks I helped to lay down, and have taken great pleasure in tending to them since, so I chose them with rich memories in mind. Each has its own unique style, which you can now explore for yourself.

The vivid history and irrevocable nature of the process mark the collection as a set of ultra-rare single malts, drawn from casks that can never again be experienced by the world – destined to become a celebrated lot for its iconic flavour and history.

STORIES FROM SCOTLAND

It’s the next best thing to being there really. Robinson’s eloquent curation recalls her career through the years with bottles that have become time capsules to her memory, and will be equally notable encounters for the connoisseur.

The Auchroisk, for one, emerged on Jan 15, 1974 – the first from the famous distillery – and was quickly recognised to be exceptionally smooth and sweet. Robinson has saved this cask for many years, describing a powerful character that has “sweet baked apple on a brambly, wooded base (that) leads into a creamy texture and a sweet taste; bold on the tongue with rich fruits, that softens to a spicily drying finish”.

She sees this as “the only opportunity you may ever have to drink a single malt whisky this mature, from the first cask filled on the distillery’s first day”.

Then, there is the Brora, where three hogsheads were saved before the distillery closed its doors in 1983.

“They are the very last of our 1980 casks, distilled during the golden age of peated Brora,” shared Robinson. With the reopening of the distillery, she found it opportune to stage a reunion with this piece of history.

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This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the unique Brora whisky.

 

“At 40 years of age, this relaxed superstar has a lightly drying aroma, with mineral and maritime top notes backed by soft notes of almond oil and light smoke. The texture is smoothly waxy and the rounded taste is sweet and smoky, with an enticing bittersweet note of burnt caramel and a sprinkle of salt. Fragrant smokiness lingers in the long, warming finish,” she noted.

Other than new appearances from ghost distillery Convalmore and a very rare Lagavulin made on Islay in charred American Oak hogsheads, there are expressions here that tell of Robinson’s pioneering innovation. The Singleton saw a one-off trial where the whisky was first kept in refill wood, before being double matured in two small ex-Madeira barriques for another 14 years.

“Being The Singleton master of malts allows me to do what excites me most; to explore the rich and sensorial world of whisky flavour,” shared Robinson.

She continued: “Fresh and lively, the mild nose rests gentle citrus notes of sweet mandarin orange on a bed of sweet toffee and cut grass. Rich and creamy in texture, the taste is immediately very sweet, fruity and intense with juicy orange fruit. A growing savoury-spicy warmth then covers the palate, seeming to fizz in its desire to please. It is creamy in the development and has a long, drying finish.”

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The elegant Singleton of Glendullan touts a creamy texture and a fruity taste. 

 

Robinson is thrilled to revisit this cask, but also admits that with only 420 bottles made available, enjoying the experience is one “only the fortunate will be able to”.

PRECIOUS IS THE PRESENTATION

For a collection of this calibre, the experience itself warrants an exceptional presentation. The Prima & Ultima Second Release comes with its own unique glass, each engraved with its own cask story. The bespoke receptacle brings forth the best of each single vintage malts, made available through additional sampling bottles of 20ml each. To complete the moment, a booklet of personal stories as told by Robinson is included within.

Only 376 full sets of the Prima & Ultima Second Release are available for purchase, and one will need to register their interest with the Diageo Rare and Exceptional Singapore private client team in Singapore to own a set. Priced at S$39,500, the collection will no doubt make for a remarkable entry in a collector’s liquid library.

Discover the faceted chapters of the Prima & Ultima Collection in this limited second release.

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