To coincide with the eighth and final series of the smash-hit Game of Thrones television show, Diageo collaborated with the HBO network to offer eight single malts, each selected to represent one of the houses or groups in the fictional land of Westeros.
The choice of whiskies seems slightly curious, as it features five bespoke Game of Thrones expressions, along with three existing ones that have merely been repackaged. Some carry age statements, others do not, and just one—Clynelish—is offered at cask strength. The standout for quality and value is Talisker Select Reserve, closely followed by 9 year old Lagavulin.
Talisker Select Reserve—91 points, $45
This represents House Greyjoy in the Game of Thrones television show and features its kraken. The nose offers damp tweed sprinkled with black pepper, plus smoky vanilla and ozone notes. Sweet smoke and citrus fruit on the palate, then more overt peatiness comes to the fore with soft toffee. Medium in length through the finish, with lingering toffee and light pepper. Great value!
Lagavulin 9 year old—90 points, $65
Lagavulin at an odd age, representing House Lannister and showcasing its lion sigil. The nose is floral, with rose hips, toffee, and fragrant peat notes. Full on the palate, with toffee apples, cinnamon, earthy peat, and smoked haddock in salted butter. The smoked fish combines with fennel in the lengthy finish.
Clynelish Reserve—89 points, $60
At cask strength, this Clynelish represents House Tyrell. Split green wood followed by marshmallows on the floral nose; increasingly sweet, with a hint of cloves. The palate immediately offers classic Clynelish waxiness, with tropical fruits, honey, and subtle smoke. Licorice, black pepper, and citrus fruits in the medium to long finish.
Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost—88 points, $40
The House Stark bottling is presented with an image of a direwolf on the label. The nose yields honey, orange, malt, toffee, and a suggestion of struck matches. Medium-bodied and sweet, with red apples, apricots, milk chocolate, and white pepper. Satsumas, nutmeg, milky cocoa, and gingery oak in the medium-length finish.
Oban Bay Reserve—87 points, $63
An appropriately dark bottle and label are featured for the Night’s Watch bottling. Tangy citrus fruit, brittle toffee, and vanilla on the nose. Nicely textured in the mouth, with tangerine segments in cream, developing nuttiness, milky coffee, and a hint of char. Lively spices, toffee, and aniseed in the medium-length, slightly oaky finish.
Royal Lochnagar 12 year old—87 points, $65
House Baratheon is represented with a label depicting a crown-wearing rampant stag. An undemanding dram, with soft toffee, cream, baked apples, and a hint of ginger on the nose. The palate is light, with brittle toffee, soft fruit notes, and oak. Drying in the finish, through aniseed and wood spice.
Singleton of Glendullan Select—87 points $30
This showcases House Tully’s leaping fish sigil. The nose yields honey, barley sugar, walnuts, and plums. The palate is straightforward and approachable, with green apples, orange juice, and delicate spice. The finish is medium in length, with toffee and mildly spicy oak.
Cardhu Gold Reserve—86 points, $40
Representing House Targaryen, this features its three-headed dragon on the label. Malt and honey on the subtle nose, with a hint of cinnamon. Medium-bodied, with milk chocolate, caramel, and youthful oak. Jaffa orange and gentle spice in the relatively short, spiky finish.