The 4th release of 2004 was where Diageo started reducing the number of bottles toward today’s standard of almost 3,000 bottles, although there were exceptions to that (it seems like the desired level for those years was around 5,000 bottles, with the 6th not quite making it there). It seems that the 1st release was an experiment, then levels were quickly adjusted to about 5,000-6,000, and later to 3,000, beginning with the 10th release.
1st Release: 6,000
2nd Release: 12,000
3rd Release: 9,000
4th Release: 5,100
5th Release: 5,280
6th Release: 4,560
7th Release: 5,274
8th Release: 6,618
9th Release: 5,916
10th Release: 3,000
11th Release: 2,988
12th Release: 2,964
13th Release: 2,958
14th Release: 2,964
15th Release: 2,964
The 4th Release is considered one of the harder Port Ellen expressions to find, and is one of several Annual Releases from the 1978 vintage.
Port Ellen 4th Annual Release (2004), Vintage 1978, 25 Year old (56.2% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, slow and thin legs.
Nose: Piney peat, licorice, cereal, green leaves, honey and dry white wine. Water releases some fruity sweetness, again those red apples found in the 3rd Release with the peat almost totally dissipating.
Palate: Sweet and fizzy, water takes it to peppery realms, which joined by the peat creates a very mouth warming dram with some chalkiness.
Linger: Honey on the tongue, peat and very mild spice in the back of the throat. The linger is rather sweet. With the addition of water, the spice come out more and the peat lingers longer in the throat.
Somewhat more “farmy” than the 2nd and 3rd Releases, the 4th brings some different notes into the mix, with pine and licorice. Interesting. May the 4th be with you!