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The Nose: Pears and pear cider. A honeyed sweetness, round, sweet cream and peat...less peat than I was expecting but it is there, softened and restrained, just showing the more elegant side of decayed vegetation. There are notes of wood smoke, a little tiny touch of vinegar and subtle, subtle mint hints.
The Palate: Incredible, smooth, exquisite and elegant smoke. Perfect blend of honeyed fruit (ripe pear again) and peat and ash. While the flavors were strong and confident, there is very little punch-you-in-the-mouth Islay here, much more delicate and lithe. This is a ballet dancer of an Islay, not a brawler. Obviously, with 25 years, there was oak, but it was so well-integrated that it did not register as oaky or tannic. The whole of the palate was just that, so well-integrated and balanced.
The Finish: Wonderful, sweet wood smoke, peat and ash, still lightly sweetened and now carefully guided along by some great drying oak tannins that left me wanting more...much, much, more.
Thoughts: This was the first chance I've had to try a Port Ellen. My expectations were sky high and they were exceeded from the moment I put the glass near my nose. This is one of those rare whiskies that I feel very lucky to have tasted. The same words keep showing up in my notes: elegant, refined, delicate, sublime... devastatingly exquisite, so I'll leave it at that.