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Elements of Islay is a special series of Islay whiskies from Specialty Drinks Company Ltd (sister company of The Whisky Exchange), in which the whisky is presented in small 50 cl bottles (called ‘pharmacy’, what’s in a name?). They already bottled Ardbeg (Ar1, Ar2), Bruichladdich (Br1), Caol Ila (CI1), Lagavulin (Lg1, Lg2) and at the recent TWE Whisky Show 2011 Kh1 – the first independent bottling of Kilchoman – was presented. But we’re trying the three Port Ellen bottling. We’ll start with a H2H of PE1 and PE2, both from sherry casks. The First Port Ellen from the series – PE1, of which the code reminds us of the Periodic System of Medelejev – has a beautiful old gold colour.
The nose – to me at least – is heavy. I admit not having experience with the mix of heavy sherry with heavy peat. This is definitely a heavy nose… and I’m not talking about the ABV. There is a fruity side (crispy, red apples) with a lot of very good chocolate (not the kind you find in the supermarket but black chocolate from Ecuador), interwoven with cow hide, smoked ham, iodine and seaweed. Some tobacco and balsamico. Djeezes! Complexity redifined! It can easily cope with a few drops of water. It sweetens the nose (which I prefer).
The attack is peat all the way. The sweetness doesn’t stand a chance. Licquorice, brine and loads of black pepper. I get all warm inside. Midpalate I get some apples and nuts. It’s much nicer with the second sip. Great, in fact. Water takes away a bit of the punch, but makes it much sweeter too. More chocolate.
The finish is lingering and drying on brine and peat.
This Port Ellen won a silver medaille in the Malt Maniac Awards 2009. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll probably find this obvious. Unfortunately only available through auctions, most of the time for exuberant prices. But what a whisky!