Four Diageo Special Releases 2010

Five years on, a reappraisal of the value of Diageo's annual releases
By Jonny McCormick
Each autumn since 2001, the Diageo Special Releases programme has got everyone talking. When the details are circulated, the list is dissected, debated, and scrutinised, and the dominant talking point in recent years has been price.

Pricing in 2014 resulted in a slowdown in the pace of sales as those interested in speculating moved on to easier pickings. Earlier editions can be acquired, though opportunities can be few, driving up the competition.

Anticipation for 2015 has already begun, but cast your mind back five years. For me, DSR 2010 was a drinkers' year more than a collectors' year. Prices from Scotch Whisky Auctions show that current hammer prices sit below the release price for many:

Auchroisk 20 Years Old 58.1% (RRP £115, sold for £90 June 2015),
Glen Spey 21 Years Old 50.4% (RRP £120, sold for £95 June 2015),
Cragganmore 21 Years Old 56% (RRP £135, sold for £90 March 2015),
Glenkinchie 20 Years Old 55.1% (RRP £125, sold for £80 January 2014),
although Lagavulin 12 Years Old 56.5% has risen in value (RRP £59, sold for £95 June 2015).


30 Years Old


Region: Highland
Recent auction price: £690
Auction: Poly Auction, Hong Kong
Date: April 2015

Comment: With a 9.3 from Dave Broom, this is the highest rated Brora in Whisky Magazine history. It was the most limited of the 2010 Special Releases with 2958 bottles, and had an original price of £280. This was the final year that the Brora came in the russet coloured tube. Prices have spread between £450 - £700 at auction this year, so it pays to shop around.

Caol Ila

12 Years Old Unpeated


Region: Islay
Recent auction price: £75
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow
Date: February 2015

Comment: These unpeated Caol Ila releases could prove to be the sleepers in the series. One of 6,000 bottles, this was the oldest unpeated Caol Ila on release and cost £52. Some of the early editions have proved significantly good purchases; a 2009 bottling of the unpeated Caol Ila 10 Years Old made £250 at Scotch Whisky Auctions in May.


30 Years Old


Region: Islands
Recent auction price: £310
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow
Date: August 2014

Comment: It's all in the name. This was released in the same volume and cost only £20 less than the Port Ellen in 2010. This particular Talisker expression has made surprisingly few appearances at auction. Optimistically, I like to think that's because they were all opened and enjoyed, but I suspect many collectors are biding their time.

Port Ellen

1978, 31 Years Old


Region: Islay
Recent auction price: £800
Date: August 2015

Comment: Unbelievably, the original price for this 10th Port Ellen annual release was £250. All 3,000 bottles were snapped up. Yet, whilst it's good, our tasting scores don't mark the 2010 edition out as a classic. Last year's release was nearly ten times the price and it is still widely available. Price can be variable, with hammer prices falling in the range of £700 - £950.