Whisky Connosr

1978 Port Ellen 23 Year Old, Douglas Laing OMC

Good standard fare

0 487

nReview by @numen

14th Jul 2013


1978 Port Ellen 23 Year Old, Douglas Laing OMC
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

from a purchased sample

Nose: Easy and fairly pleasant enough. Some coastal creamy quality, with a touch of ashy peat. It's so quiet! There's a heap of lemon and some other apply, acidic fruit. Linseed oil, violets, wax, and then there's something just slightly putrid. Not awful, but it flits in and out. Not really getting the sherry in this. A hint of salt and varnish as well. Oysters with lemon juice and many of the usual PE notes.

Palate: Wax, soot, coal, lemons, vanilla, wax, and spicy ginger. It's standard fare here. This is lemony. Fresh. And also rather oily. There's a funky note in it, but can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's that putrid element from the nose, but I can't be sure. Lemon, flower wax, and all the usual. Everything is in balance, there's a bit of fluctuation between all the parts. I like it, to be sure, just not sure what to make of that off-note.

Finish: Really more on wax and a little coastal lemon juice and wax. It's actually not the longest finish, and it takes a bit of an effort to bring it out, but it's nice. It's easy to like Port Ellen, and it's got some of those good characteristics, but it's nothing special, other than perhaps the name on the label - and it's not like people care more about that than what's in the bottle.

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systemdown commented

Thanks for the review, glad it's not an automatic 90+ because of the name on the label. I often wonder what score would be given to a line up of PEs, Broras etc tasted blind... I believe that if you expect beforehand that a whisky ought to be great (due to pedigree, legend etc), it will have a subconscious effect on your experience and result in a higher than deserved score.

10 years ago 0

numen commented

You're definitely right about the phenomenon, and science backs you up! It's about wine, but I'd expect that it's similar with other subjective experiences.


I've seen wildly divergent scores for this bottle, including a 78 or something from Whiskyfun and better than a 91 on Whiskybase. I can see how one could get either score (especially if you really honed in that off/putrid note, or didn't mind the shorter finish and just really dig the standard PE profile.)

10 years ago 0

systemdown commented

Great link there to that wine study, thanks! The brain can be very persuasive, indeed. I do try to approach all tastings with 100% objectivity but of course I'm sure I have failed to do so on occasion when tasting a "pedigree" whisky.

For me, I don't mind if I'm adding my own bias but I try hard to make sure it's due to my own tastes and not for any other reason. For instance when doing a time course review, I never look at previous notes or scores for that whisky and I approach it as if it's a brand new whisky. Hopefully that discipline helps in some small way to avoid the "prior expectation" issue.

10 years ago 0

Victor commented

@numen, @systemdown, I am way too sense oriented with whisky to even begin to become infatuated with the IDEA of a whisky. It astonishes me that some people around here are so enamoured of the idea of some distilleries that they seem ready to do glowing REVIEWS of their IDEAS of how wonderful those whiskies must be. For me, it has to taste and smell good, right here, right now, to me. I really don't care if 100,000 people swear by it and are willing to spend $ 300 a bottle for it. When you like to get good value for your money, as I do, then the high opinions of others toward a given distillery are often more detriments than blessings. The odds of getting great value for your money at $ 200 a bottle are a lot more difficult than the odds of getting great value for your money at $ 50 a bottle. (make that $ 100/bottle in Oz, @systemdown) There is a much higher risk in purchasing a premium price bottle...that bottle so much farther to fall off from someone else's pre-conceived pedestal.

I have to taste the whisky myself. I am not much for the opinions of others as a guide to what I will like, though I do very much respect the Vox Populi of a large base of feedback, such as the Connosr 'Most Popular' Top 50 Highest Rated list.

As I have said repeatedly to those endless "Will I like this (or that) whisky?" discussions: "Just go out and have a drink of it, for God's sake!". Everything else is just shadow-boxing. Whisky drinking is not by its nature a form of mental masturbation. It really does require consumption of the actual beverage...and it is by its nature a social rather than a solitary (and on-line) endeavor.

10 years ago 0