In 1987, the company United Distillers was formed in Scotland. The Guinness-owned company had six important scotch whiskies, referring to the series as “Classic malts”, with each single malt coming from a different whisky region in Scoltand. The idea was to highlight the best expressions of the various scotch-making regions. In 1997, Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan to create Diageo, but the Classic malts series was maintained. In fact, the Classic Malts is one of the most important marketing strategies of Diageo, with the bottles often packaged together in a kit.
The series includes:
- Glenkinchie 10 (Lowland)
- Cragganmore 12 (Speyside)
- Dalwhinnie 15 (Highland)
- Oban 14 (West Highland)
- Talisker 10 (Isle of Skye)
- Lagavulin 16 (Islay)
Last Saturday, thanks to Angelo Corbetta’s vast and rare collection of whiskies at Harp Pub Guinness, I had the privilege of participating in a tasting of the Classic Malts from 1992, just after the series was launched. The special tasting was led by the whisky experts Giacomo Bombana and Jacopo Grosser of whiskyfacile.com. The guest of honor was Franco Gasparri, Ambassador of Diageo Italy and Keeper of The Quaich, making him part of an exclusive, international community of people recognized for their outstanding commitment to Scotch whisky.
There were about 20 whisky lovers at the tasting, with most voting for the Talisker as their favorite. I personally preferred the Lagavulin 16 for its peaty smokiness. I also enjoyed the simpler Glenkinchie 10 for its sweetness and drinkability.
In addition, we sampled a Lagavulin 12 White Horse bottled in the 1980s, a heavenly scotch that fetches over 1000 euros on auctions.