Apologies. I’ve been slower getting these Port Ellen reviews posted than I’d hoped. February is a bit of a messy month. Bear with me. Still a couple more to go.
This 10th Annual release from the good folks of Diageo came second (in terms of tasting order, not ranking) in an absolutely stunning range of Port Ellen I was fortunate enough to try recently with a group of friends. I’d read incredible things about it, and this particular expression was one of the ones I was most looking forward to trying. I think, by the end of the night, I ranked it slightly lower than I figured I would, but let’s face it…this is like comparing Ferraris. We may have our favorites, but they’re all pretty damn spectacular.
Most of these official releases (all, up to and including the 14th) are either 1978 or 1979 vintages. This one, being the tenth in a series that started in 2001, was a 1978 and was bottled in 2010, making it a 31 year old. The outturn was a mere 3,000 bottles, all of which were quickly scooped by the collectors and connoisseurs. The retail back then? Hmmm…just breaking four figures I think.
I should note before jumping into tasting notes that the nose on this PE was stunning. A gorgeous soft profile that lived up to what all good flavour experiences strive for: a balance of sweets and sours, but also boasting an individuality that makes it entirely recognizable for what it is. Beautiful old Port Ellen. The palate is a little different, but still…wow. Just wow.
Nose: Milk chocolate. Soft peach. Smells of old books. Citrus, but mostly grapefruit (one of my favorite aromas in whisky). Faintest pink bubblegum. “OWA” (old whisky aroma). Sugar cookies. Wooden buckets of sea water. Peat and smoke are simply background dressing here, adding complexity and character.
Palate: Grassy and herbal, with smells of green tea. Chocolate again. Pepper and brine. A squeeze of lemon. The peat explodes with a bite after a second or two, in a bigger fashion the the nose would lead you to believe. Leaves a smokiness behind that is only hinted at on the nose. Long finish.
Thoughts: Softer than the 9th release, and a rather different animal, I think.
*Sincere thanks to the anonymous gent who kindly poured this, and several other, Port Ellen for me at a recent gathering. Unforgettable. Slainte.
– Images & Words: Curt