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Port Ellen 11 Year Old 1983 The Cooper’s Choice


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@markjedi1Review by @markjedi1

14th Apr 2023


Port Ellen 11 Year Old 1983 The Cooper’s Choice
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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This young Port Ellen, distilled in the last year that the (old) distillery was still operational, has been in the bottle for almost three times as long as it has ever spent in the cask. After all, this was already bottled in 1995 – at the age of 11 – under the 'The Cooper's Choice' label of the Vintage Malt Whisky Co. At the time of release very affordable I was told. I myself paid about 300 EUR for it a few years ago – at an auction – but today you can count on three times that. I put it in a line-up for a whisky tasting in Belgium. They were pleased. And so was I! It's as pale as white wine, which is typical, because Port Ellen often got refill bourbon casks at the time, because it was ‘just a blender's whisky’.

Hurrah! The typical DNA of Port Ellen is present, even after almost 30 years in the bottle! Citrus and white fruit, hint of kiwi (really!) and a light maritime touch. Something of ink and tar. Subtle touch of rubber. This is silky smooth. A tad waxy, which I love. The sweet and sour peat plays second fiddle, and that's a good thing. This is a delicious nose.

The body is a bit on the light side, I have to admit, but that doesn't change the fact that my taste buds are treated to grapefruit, licorice, oyster juice, white fruit and something that reminds me of inner tubes of a bicycle (yes, I chewed on that as a child, sue me). Hey, wait a minute! From the second sip onward this even becomes a bit waxy and he seems to gain strength. The spiciness increases, so does the peat. This suddenly becomes very good. White fruit is wrapped by smoked fish, kelp and seawater. Powerful. Suddenly the 43% is a godsend, because it makes this Port Ellen dangerously drinkable and elusive. Heavenly!

The finish may be shorter than I would like, but it remains a medium-length feast on brackish water, tar and oyster juice. And simply delicious.

Eleven years old, low ABV, the expectations were rather modest, but they were easily exceeded. Wonderfully naked PE!

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