Prima & Ultima
Prima & Ultima is a new series of collectable releases of magnificent, incredibly rare single vintage malts. Each release is the first and last of its kind, each is drawn from a tiny number of highly sought-after casks with their own story to tell.
The eight single vintage malts chosen to open this inaugural collection were personally selected by one of the world’s most respected whisky makers, Dr Jim Beveridge OBE. As a scientist and master blender for Johnnie Walker, he’s enjoyed unparalleled access to Diageo’s extensive whisky portfolio. Over the last 40 years he’s worked closely with distilleries in all four major regions of Scotland – Highlands, Islands, Speyside and Lowlands. In spending decades alongside the craftsmen who make these singular spirits, he’s helped them produce what have become the secrets behind the unique character of each remarkable single malt. As the opening curator for Prima and Ultima, he has chosen whiskies that represent eight distinct pivots in the recent history of Scotch. They each tell a tale of heritage and craftsmanship, marking moments in time that make these precious casks, firsts and lasts of their kind.
The Master Blender
Beveridge marks the moment coal-firing of stills ended in 1971 at Cragganmore by including in the collection the last cask to be filled with whisky made this way at the distillery. The inclusion of three casks of The Singleton of Dufftown from 1988 mark the year when the grassy, fruity flavours were uncovered in The Singleton character from a new slow-craft technique. This complex, rich whisky is the first 30-year-old release of this kind. The existence of prized 1979 whisky from a silenced Port Ellen, stoically maturing for 40 years, also speaks to the end of an era – and is a nod to the spirit of invention that will return when the beloved distillery will open its doors once again. Beveridge spent time at Lagavulin, learning what gives the Islay malt its purest expression, captured here for the first time in a 28-year-old filled in 1991. From Scotland’s North East coastline, a 26-year-old Clynelish from 1993 represents a triumph of his inquiry into how this distillery character reveals its renowned waxiness.
His taste for the exceptional also informs this collection: six standout casks of Talisker with a more rounded and gently peated style to the distillery’s smoky signature have been carefully safeguarded for a moment like this since 1988, the last of their kind. Meanwhile, a 1984 cask of Caol Ila, number #5773 to be specific, was the first of a new style, and this bottling tells the story of a decade-long chase for this cask’s recovery. The final addition to this inaugural number, a muscular year-old Mortlach takes its place as one of the last remaining first-fill Pedro Ximenez seasoned oak butt casks from 1994.
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