Keeping in line with the Broras from the first two days of the year, we now turn to the first of two Port Ellen whiskys, a 25 year old today and a 27 year old in the next post.
Another casualty of United Distillers (Diageo’s) 1983 mass closing of distilleries, Port Ellen remained obscure until 1998, when the newly formed Diageo released the first of only two Rare Malts Selection bottlings of Port Ellen, both of 1978 vintage casks: a 20 year old bottled in 1998 at 60.9% and a 22 year old bottled in the fall of 2000, at 60.5%. By the following year, Diageo unveiled the Special Releases Series, and Port Ellen has had an official release in each of the 14 years that have ensued.
As Port Ellen, like Brora, was never really intended for consumption as a single malt, many casks were sold to independent bottlers (note that diageo seems to have a pretty coherent policy about the drinking/blending distinction in their system, thus a great number of Caol Ila and Clynelish casks are out there with IB but almost no Cardhu or Taslisker, despite being “signature malts’ for blends. Of course, this policy might be nothing more that supply and demand, but that seems to be manageable over time).
Old Malt Cask Port Ellen 25, Distilled February 1982 and Bottled in August 2007, Sherry Cask 3639 Yielding 594 bottles (50% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Light copper, long and thin legs.
Nose: Lightest peat playing with the sherry, sweet cloves, red wine, wet peat, fresh cinnamon buns and a bouquet of fresh flowers.
Palate: Dirty peat and sherry sweetness combine in a dry mouth feel. Cherry flavored hard candy, cinnamon and floral notes fill the mouth.
Linger: The peat settles in the back of the throat while the sherry makes the center and sides of the tongue and the inner cheeks tangy with the tannins.
The 25 is peatier and less spicy than the Old Malt Cask 26 distilled 7 months later which I reviewed here. In both these expressions the sherry is fabulous and utterly enjoyable.
Thanks, Mr. O for sharing this great dram, and have a great new year!