Port Ellen 27, 1983-2010, Refill Butt 517, 59% – Signatory Vintage

It’s been a while since I tried a Port Ellen. Not overly surprising with the distillery being closed for 40 years now. And because of that I expect that the frequency will go down further, until it hits the frequency of trying Brora, and after that Malt Mill.

I got a sample of this from my whisky buddy Nils and decided to give it a go a while ago. By the color there is no indication that this comes from a refill butt, but that might not be all to it. Let’s find out what this one is about!

Image from Whiskybase

Very coastal up to a level of ‘the fishermen just came in with their catch’. Some burnt sugar and toasted almonds as well. A very strange combination of scents. With some time the salinity lingers, but the overly ‘harborly’ scents diminish a bit.

It’s only on the palate that the smoke starts to come through. It wasn’t ‘unpeated’ before, but it wasn’t very clear either. Now it is. Still very coastal and still very Islay. Salinity, tarry ropes, band-aids and iodine. But with that sweet caramel layer behind it all.

The finish is a bit more crisp, and loses some of that sweetness that came before. Very coastal and it moves VERY much into the typical Port Ellen territory of shammy leather and dried lemon. Mostly the shammy leather, though. Quite a long finish.

The finish adds a couple of points, because that combination of coastal notes with a caramel like sweetness didn’t really work before that. I don’t generally shy away from weird combinations of flavors, but the ‘very’ harbory (putting the Port in the Port Ellen!) aromas and flavors combined with the caramel… That’s just a bit too weird.


Of course, with this starting to be as rare as hens’ teeth, prices are going up rapidly. Currently this one goes for over € 1500 in Switzerland, and € 2750 (!) in France.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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