Three whiskies from Port Ellen
Today I am presenting the second half of the private "super tasting" I had a few weeks back. I tasted three Brora and three Port Ellen, half blind. So I knew the whiskies, but not in which order they were presented, and not which one was Brora and which was a Port Ellen. In other words I was putting my senses to the test, and having fun. My review of the three Broras was published earlier. Now the time has come to share my view on the three whiskies from Port Ellen. This is whisky from an iconic Islay distillery, that was closed down in 1983.
Port Ellen 1982 28 YO Connoisseurs Choice, 43 %
The first candidate is a Port Ellen 1982 28 YO Connoisseurs Choice, from independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail. It was distilled in September 1982, and bottled in October 2010. It has been matured in a refill sherry butt.
Nose (22/25): Mild and smooth, some caramel. The slightest hint of smoke. I also detect oranges here.
Taste (21/25): Mild peat, soft and well-rounded. This is delicate stuff, but maybe a bit too delicate? Mild orange notes, and a hint of licorice.
Finish (23/25): Slightly oaky, drying and still mild. And just when I am about to conclude - it fires off on all cylinders - pure bliss! Warm down to the core of my whisky heart; ginger, chocolate and creamy caramel. A very nice finale!
Balance (22/25): A bit all over the place really, but still very nice.
Port Ellen 1979 32 YO 12th release, 52,5 %
This whisky was distilled in 1979, and bottled in 2012. Matured for 32 years in American and European oak. A total of 2964 bottles were released.
Nose (24/25): Mild and dry smoke. Fruit caramels, almonds and some oaky notes. It is very soft, with lots and lots of lovely, lovely vanilla now! It is marshmallow heaven, with a pinch of salt thrown in just for fun. Fantastic nose!
Taste (23/25): Fruity (citrus), and a bit waxy. Lots of pepper and spicy licorice. Very big attack, almost an ambush. Dry smoke. Love it!
Finish (21/25): Warm and medium long. It dies off a bit too soon actually. Seems like the ambush was anticipated, and it fell offer for a counter-attack. It is now left dying on the battlefield without having had a chance to reach its full potential.
Balance (23/25): A very nice dram, especially the nose is stunning. The finish was confusingly short.
Port Ellen 1983 28 YO Old & Rare, 54,6 %
The third and final candidate is the Port Ellen 1983 28 YO Old & Rare from Douglas Laing. This is a single cask, so just 227 bottles all in all. It was matured in a sherry cask, from 1983 until October 2011.
Nose (22/25): Full on sherry notes. Dark fruits, raisins, mild smoke, gunpowder and white pepper.
Taste (22/25): Pepper, lots of pepper in fact! A whole pepper symphony! Did I mention there’s pepper here? Oh, oh, and there’s buckets full of – wait for it – pepper! Now that I review my notes, I see I would be remiss not to mention that I found peppery notes here. Pepper, pepper, pepper, with a pinch of pepper. A vague hint of rubber, dark fruits and smoke, just before the pepper squad takes over again.
Finish (23/25): The pepper actually climbs into the back seat now. How they all fit back there I have no idea, but they do, and they actually stay quiet. Cool! Cool and a bit fresh actually. Charming! There's black smoke and fruity ashes along the road, and we drive by a beach where the salty sea spray mixes with the smoke.
Balance (22/25): Quite nice to have one distinctly sherry matured whisky in this line-up. It stands out as a bit more fresh and spicy.
Sláinte! - Thomas