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Managers' Choice

by Gavin D Smith, 01/10

As reported back in September, Diageo has introduced the first batch of releases in an innovative range of new single malt expressions under the Managers' Choice banner. Ultimately, 27 operational malt whisky distilleries will be represented, with out-turns ranging from 200 to 600 bottles, all issued at cask strength.

Diageo's Dr Nick Morgan explains that, "We asked members of our sensory team, including Jim Beveridge, Maureen Robinson and Craig Wallace to pick three casks from each distillery. The brief was to ensure they carried the 'DNA' of each distillery's character, but also that they offered something different, and in particular, characteristics not associated with the 'standard' distillery bottlings. No brief was given on age.

"Having selected three casks from each distillery, we invited managers and site operations managers to get together at Blair Athol distillery in February to arrive at a consensus on the individual casks we would bottle."

The initial line-up comprises Cardhu, Glen Elgin, Linkwood, Mortlach, Oban and Teaninich, while future releases are as below, with a 1997 Dufftown also scheduled to make an appearance at some unspecified point

Release 2 (4th January 2010)
Blair Athol, Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glen Spey, Strathmill, Talisker.

Release 3 (4th March 2010)
Caol Ila, Dailuaine, Glen Ord, Glenkinchie, Inchgower, Mannochmore, Royal Lochnagar

Release 4 (4th June 2010)
Auchroisk, Benrinnes, Clynelish, Glendullan, Glenlossie, Knockando, Lagavulin.

Cardhu, Manager's Choice (distilled 1997, bottled 2009) (Scotland)
(Matured in a first-fill, ex-Bourbon American oak hogshead). An attractive, floral nose of light malt, sherbet dips and delicate spices. The addition of water introduces a note of milk chocolate. Sweet and rich on the palate, with vanilla and Bourbon. Water teases out notes of warm toffee. The finish is medium in length, with persistent spice, slowly drying to dark chocolate. (252 bottles). 57.3% ABV, 70cl, 250, specialist whisky merchants.
Glen Elgin, Manager's Choice (distilled 1998, bottled 2009) (Scotland)
(Matured in a rejuvenated European oak butt) Furniture polish and brittle toffee on the nose, with raisins, prunes and spice. Smooth-bodied, with a palate of oranges and peaches, then root ginger and black pepper. The finish dries to liquorice. (534 bottles). 61.1% ABV, 70cl, 250, specialist whisky merchants.
Linkwood, Manager's Choice (distilled 1996, bottled 2009) (Scotland)
(Matured in a first-fill European oak butt) Fruit cake and figs on the nose, rich and full-bodied in the mouth, with medium Sherry, toffee, nutmeg and almonds. Long and consistent in the finish, with raisins and Brazil nuts. Distinctive liquorice with the addition of water. (480 bottles). 48.3% ABV, 70cl, 200, specialist whisky merchants.
Mortlach, Manager's Choice (distilled 1997, bottled 2009) (Scotland)
(Matured in a first-fill, ex-Bourbon American oak barrel) Light and gently fruity on the nose, with peaches in particular, but with a vague undertone of butchers' shops. The palate is notably sweet and fruity, with lots of vanilla, while the finish is medium in length, lightly metallic, steadily drying. Finally, cocoa powder. (240 bottles). 57.3% ABV, 70cl, 250, specialist whisky merchants.
Oban, Manager's Choice (distilled 2000, bottled 2009) (Scotland)
(Matured in a first-fill European oak butt) The nose offers maple syrup, toffee bonbons, spicy salt and delicate smoke, while citrus fruits, especially orange, hazelnuts and a tang of sea salt are present on the palate. The finish dries steadily to dark chocolate. (534 bottles). 58.7% ABV, 70cl, 300, specialist whisky merchants.
Teaninich, Manager's Choice (distilled 1996, bottled 2009) (Scotland)
(Matured in a rejuvenated American oak hogshead) Fragrant, rounded and sweet on the nose, with a palate of melon, ripe bananas and background parma violets. Banoffee pie with a sprinkling of ginger. The finish is medium in length, spicy, with oak and black bananas. (246 bottles). 55.3% ABV, 70cl, 200, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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