Penfold’s – a special bottling 28 years in the making –

Today, Penfold’s released a new range, called the Penfold’s Special Bottlings.  Within it are three new directions, giving the winemakers the opportunity to work without any limitations:

  1. Lot 1990 Pot Distilled Single Batch Brandy – this is the first release of a 28 year old Single Batch Brandy.  There is only as much as there is – limited.
  2. The second release, due later this year (September 2018), Lot 518, a Spirited Wine – a premium fortified Barossa Shiraz (94%), enlivened with the Chinese Spirit Baiju.
  3. The third release, due 2019, is a Champagne – released in time for Penfold’s 175th year.

… A special bottling 28 years in the making …

Lot 1990 Pot Distilled Single Batch Brandy.

We identified almost immediately (in 1990) that it was quite exceptional, and we’ve been ageing it, watching over it and looking after it ever since.  It certainly proved to be as good as we thought it would be.  And with the opportunity that we’ve now been given to start expressing some of these things, we looked at it and thought “well… we could release a 1990 brandy.  So we did.  Everything that we do today, and over the forty years that I’ve been making fortifieds, follows the same philosophy: everything in balance so that no one thing stands out.  Every component you can discover to be in there, but it is designed not to be obvious, or to stand out over any other character.

– James Godfrey, Penfold’s Global Fortified and Spirit Winemaker.

LOT 1990 Pot Distilled Single Batch Brandy

RRP: $425 (750ml)

“The nose opens with aromas of honey, clove, star anise, aniseed, date, raisin, hints of white chocolate, red toffee apple, candied orange peel, saffron… it is smooth, long and warming.  On the palate there is crushed sea salt and caramel – there is a life and a lift here, no doubt from the influence of the time spent in chardonnay barrels – vanilla pod, richness, incredible length.  Last known vintage, 1919. [Ice is added – 2 cubes to about 30mls.] The sweetness is really elevated once the brandy is cooled down.  Custard, stewed apple, nutmeg, cinnamon, even hints of kiwi, red and white currant.  The flavour endures beyond a mouth full of water.  Wonderful.  Vibrant, fresh, vital, honey, cardamom.   97 pts

Produced in the Barossa.  42%ABV.  Released to cellar door and global travel retail.


Understanding and utilising the past, and recognising a future path.  We took grandfather oak, we took chardonnay oak, and we started ageing in that as well so that it added different flavours, gave different  tones, and added different complexities 

– James Godfrey, Global Fortified and Spirit Winemaker

Photo: The image above shows the tiny sample bottles that were prepared for this tasting, it speaks to the limited nature of the Brandy.


Penfold’s have been in brandy for a long long time.  It had always intrigued me that that was there.   So, to have this opportunity to do brandy… if you look at Penfold’s history, the stills in the 1880s at Magill were refurbished and done up.  When they took over the the Nurioopta site in 1913 they did a huge renovation on the distillation equipment there and they put in the largest pot still in the southern hemisphere which was 5000 gallons, and reinvigorated the whole spirit production.  Unfortunately it happened to be 1914 just prior to the war.  Then they missed 4 or 5 vintages when the war was on.  So the next opportunity was 1919, immediately following the war.  Not surprising that 1914 and 1919 were the two vintages that they had.  It always fascinated me that it was single vintage liqueur brandy.  The long history of Penfold’s gave us the opportunity to do this. To make it different we looked at all the cues you can add to a brandy to give it that ‘extra edge’.  So what we did: we took cues from other producers in other spirit worlds; we took grandfather oak, we took chardonnay oak, and we started ageing in that as well so that it added different flavours, gave different  tones, and added different complexities.  Everything we are trying to do, and everything we do in our blending, we have to remember it is a single batch single vintage -by its very nature there’s not much to play with.

– James Godfrey