I don’t get to taste Port Ellen all that much, which was slightly different a couple of years ago. This is mostly because of the rather ridiculous price tag that comes with every bottle.
Ever since Diageo started increasing the prices of Port Ellen some 7 years ago (before that, the newest annual release was some € 200) the independent bottlers have followed suit, unfortunately.
I had a couple of bottles from yonder year of which I finished the last one last year. Since then, all of my Port Ellens were gone and I don’t expect to buy more. Ever. Unless I happen to find some backwater bottle-shop that has some forgotten bottles gathering dust somewhere.
I traded this sample with Ruud L. Luckily I had some stuff he was interested in, so I could finally taste some Port Ellen again. A random bottler that I don’t cross paths with often. Generally I am a bit wary of these bottlings since Port Ellen isn’t a guarantee of awesomeness as some claim it to be.
The nose is soft and gentle with lots of oak. The typical shammy leather of Port Ellen is here too, with a light saltiness. Moss and heather with charcoal. Suede, and cow skin, lemon crumble pie and wet, mossy tree bark.
The palate starts of gentle but it does build some strength after a couple of seconds. Straw, syrupy sweetness with leather, dried lemon and oak. Smoke, heather and salt. Warming, but also a hint of sea weed, with a dry mineral undertone.
The finish is, again, slightly salty and very old fashioned. And old. Shammy leather, smoke, heather, peat with crumble pastry and a hint of custard. Oak. It’s quite long too.
It all Port Ellens were this good, I’d be happy to save a couple of months for a bottle. Unfortunately, even these lesser known bottlers charge hundreds of euros for any Port Ellen, and this currently goes for about € 700, if Whiskybase has its facts straight.
This is an awesome dram. It shows exactly why Port Ellen is such a great whisky, with lots of old fashioned depth and flavors, without being too gentle. It’s got it all. The combination of flavors is absolutely great and especially the ‘old’ factor has been bottled successfully. By that I mean you don’t only get an aged whisky, but also a whisky in a style that’s no longer made. Old Caol Ila can have that too, and all those Islay distileries that have somehow changed their procedures.
Again, this is one awesome dram. If you can get a sample somewhere, do so.
Port Ellen 1979-2010, 30 years old, 51.9%, bourbon cask 5585, Mackillop’s Choice. Available from Whiskysite for € 700