My research a while back, indicated that, for its Distiller's Editions, Diageo was using the distilleries' standard product (16y, in the case of Lagavulin), and finishing it for a period of around a year. Could be as short as nine months. Could be as much as fifteen or even eighteen months. Not only that, but the pre-finishing age could vary within a year's time, so the two aging periods could result in a lot of variation.
With things going the way they're going, I would assume the average age has been going down in recent years, and will continue to do so, until they reach the limit. Or they might break the limit and market as a... Special 15-year Distiller's Edition! Also note that they don't put ages or very specific dates on the DE. So that 1994-2010 just might be a 15-year.
For instance, the 1982 Dalwhinnie DE clocked in at around 18 years of overall maturation, the 1986 Glenkinchie DE at approximately 14years, the 2000 Lagavulin at some 20 years and the 1983 Oban DE at about 17 years. All of these releases illustrate an ageing regimen greater than (sometimes significantly so) that for the regular bottlings.
Of late, however, the folks at Diageo appear to have settled on general DE maturation periods closer to those for the regular bottlings. And they definitely have also fine-tuned the finishing timelines as well.
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