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Port Ellen hardly needs an introduction, of course. The distillery, established in 1925 and closed in 1983, enjoys an almost untouchable cult status among whiskybuffs. Rightly so. If you realize that Port Ellen was meant primarily for blending purposes and hence only got 2nd, 3rd of even older re-fill casks (from Lagavulin, among others) for maturing its spirit, then one can only have the utmost respect for this whisky. The ‘tired wood’ certainly didn’t play a big role in the development of this Scotch.
Diageo offers an official bottling every year, since 2000. This is the 7th Release of Port Ellen 1979 (28 Year Old), bottled in 2007. It has an ABV of 53,8%. I’m the lucky owner (for as long as that will last) of bottle 1.171 of 5.274.
The nose is dominated by silt, seaweed and smoke, but citrus fruits (primarily lemon), apple and honey are also major players. Obviously an ex-bourbon barrel. The nose is very clean, but rather muted. It took me the several deep whiffs to discern the different flavours (no punishment, though).
The dram is oily and mouth-coating. The sweet attack is very powerful and peppery. Then the sweet fruits come out in a haze of smoky silt. Very bold and balanced.
The finish is deliciously long, very smoky and salty, leaving the mouth absolutely dry, just like you would expect from a first rate Port Ellen.
I kept this bottle for my 100th tasting note. Though it would be appropriate. It’s also a very high score (and I know I need to review some of my previous scores). This 93/100 is well deserved. Port Ellen is indeed a legendary dram.
PS. The 20cl bottle has an ABV of 54,7%, because the whisky was vatted and bottled on different dates (maybe even different bottling lines). So basically it's a different whisky. I will try that one later!