Archive for the ‘Port Ellen’ Category

Signatory Port Ellen 1983 (27 year old) 55.7% –

Sherry Butt (?) 231/ Dist: 1983 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Aug 2010

A phenolic and briny nose. It has a distinct Caol Ila like freshness and a hint of juicy orange fruit. It’s a bit on the simple side, and the alcohol is quiet intrusive. It certainly seems about half its age. The palate it’s quite carbolic and alcoholic. The alcohol practically sears the tongue. Ok thereare some oily, fishy notes along with some coastal peat smoke, but it’s surprisingly dirty and a bit feinty, and as for the finish…. Well, what finish! 

A drop of water I’m afraid turns it into a bit of a soapy, watery, rubbery mess. It has to go down as one of the worst bottlings of Port Ellen I have ever tasted, and if I forked outaround £160 for this I would be very disappointed. 

According to the blurb, this was distilled on February 2nd 1983, just a few months before the distillery was closed (in May), and aged in a wine treated butt (whatever that means? – a tired old sherry butt perhaps? If you can detect any cask presence here then hats off to you!). Now I hate to denigrate anyone’s work, but I can only assume with the threat of closure hanging in the air, that the aim was to distill as much spirit as was possible, hence the stills were probably filled to almost capacity and pushed like hell. I maybe completely wrong in this supposition, but either way it doesn’t make this an enjoyable Port Ellen.


John McDougall’s Golden Cask Port Ellen 1979 (26 year old) 53%

Bourbon/ Dist: 1979 Btl: 2005/ Tasted: May 2006

Clean, maturing aromas of dense, oily orange and peach fruit. Then in drifts some gentle peat and smoke with bog myrtle and herbal notes and a touch of earth. It is gentle with a superb depth of rich fruit. Dry, soft, smooth, mature oily orange and peat fruit with coal tarwhich lingers in a delicate way. Very long length with coal dust on the finish. Not the peatiest of Port Ellen’s I’ve tasted but it has a superb depth with a touch of dusty spices. No water needed.

Ian MacLeod Chieftains Choice Port Ellen (USA) 25 year old 43%

Bourbon/ Tasted: Sept 2008

An exceedingly oily nose. Cod liver oilaromas mingle with slightly rubbery apricot and piquant fruit. Very windswept and briny with the toffee’d oak lazily drifting in after some time. It develops and intriguing floral note as well.  The palate is quite light and a bit unsubstantial. The oak dominates the proceedings with vanilla and butter flavours, although there is a touch of coastal apricot fruit. Ok Length. Quite a coastally finish with the marine/ fishy notes. Good nose, shame about the simple palate!

Murray McDavid Mission Port Ellen 1982 (27 year old) 48.6%

Bourbon – Yquem/ Dist: 1982 Btl: 2009/ Tasted: Dec 2010

The nose opens with an avalanche of sweet honeyed fruit, iodine, seaweedy-peat and coastal notes. Quite bold for a Port Ellen with the finishing cask adding a sweet/ candied edge. Oily and briny with hints of bog myrtle, tobacco and menthol. Fresh and lively yet gentle and mature, an excellent bottling of Port Ellen which gets sweeter over time, but the coastal character balances that out well. 

Soft and coastaly on the palate, with a bucket full of sweet fruit and wood spices/ tannins. Dusty peat smoke and ash drifts in along with hints of fish oils. It opens into a lovely, tart, coastal middle with the finishing cask coming through only on the finish adding a light honeyed sweetness. Vey long coastal finish. 

A drop of water brings out some lovely orange fruit, whilst on the palate it has become sweeter and extremely oily now with just a touch ofparmaviolets and a gorgeous ashy finish, which is almost endless. A superb Port Ellen!

Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Port Ellen 1982 (27 year old) 43%

Bourbon/ Dist: 1982 Btl: 2009/ Tasted: Aug 2010

A delicate, slightly spirity nose of garden fresh white fruits, grass and hints of medicinal peat. Over time it becomes more coastal as gentle orange fruit wafts in. Soft and fruity on the palate with sugardusted citrus fruit, integrated vanilla oak and gentle coastal-peat notes. A bit less complex that the nose, but that’s just being picky! Lovely sooty finish, again sugarcoated. A beautiful old Port Ellen which seems like Caol Ila.

Douglas McGibbon Provenance Port Ellen 1982 (21 year old) 46%

Bourbon DMG 895/ Dist: Winter 1982 Btl Summer 2004/ Tasted: Aug 2006

Phenolic and salty aromas of rich orange fruit along with a touch of sherry cask. Subtly peated with a hint of Iodine. Quite Caol Ila-esque. Rich, fruity and sherried on the palate with some coastal fruit and a touch of smoky peat. Reasonable length and depth, which to be honest reminds me of an average Caol Ila.

Douglas Laing Old & Rare Platinum Port Ellen 1979 (30 year old) 52.1%

Single cask – 190 bottles/ Dist: 1979 Btl: 2009/ Tasted: Nov 2010

A nose of toffee’d butterscotch and tarry peat,parmaviolets and intense alcohol. With time it becomes quite sawdusty with a sickly-ish barley sweetness. Dry, dusty and extremely alcoholic on the palate. Plenty of peat smoke which settles in the roof of the mouth. It’s all a bit simple, and although it has a long length there is a distinct lack of development. 

Water mutes the nose somewhat and makes it a touch more astringent. On the palate it is fuller and oilier now. Less peat but more candied. It’s marginally better with water, well, at least it tries to show some structure and character now!……. £250???…….Pass! 

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Port Ellen 1979 (26 year old) 50%

Re-fill Sherry Butt DL2856/ Dist: Nov 1979 Btl: Aug 2006/ Tasted: Aug 2006

Rich, sherry aromas (obviously) with coffee/ toffee malt, coastal fruit and a mere whiff of peat. On the palate the rich sherried fruits dominate along with hints of earth, salt fishermans sowesters and bog myrtle. Wonderfully intense with a very herby middle. Very long with with a late surge of peat smoke.

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Port Ellen 1983 (27 year old) 50%

Sherry Cask DL6836/ Dist: Apr 1983 Btl: Dec 2010/ Tasted: Mar 2013

The nose is a full on, rich, spicy, dark chocolatey sherry fest, punctuated by some extremely herbal, medicinal peat. In saying that the sherry has a very nutty, Manzanilla-esque character. I’m amazed that it has retained its freshness and coastal charcter which adds a counter balance to the sherry richness and for its age there is still quite a bit of medicinal, camphor laced peat. With time some burnt wood and citrus notes appear. 

The palate is lightly oiled and tarry with a touch of medicinal peat and some rich sherried fruit. Oooh that’s woody though with a fair old chunk of wood splinters and bitter tannins. However the citrus oils and parma violet notes linger and some dusty peat smoke appears at the end, but you’ve got to get through that wood first! 

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Port Ellen 1983 (28 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Code: OMC2056/ Dist: Feb 1983 Btl: Oct 2011/ Tasted: Oct 2011

The heavy fish oils mute the nose, thus it takes awhile to get into its stride. Subtle, yet building aromas of mature honey, oak are accented by a gentle coastalness and flecked with medicinal peat. Gentle and mature with some late buttery oak and just a sprinkling of sea salt. 

The palate is also a tad reticent. First impressions are that it’s a tad watery but after rolling it around the mouth it gently unwinds with oak, mature honey and fishy notes. Gently sooty/ ashy middle with hints of medicinal bog myrtle. After all these years it still retains a fresh, coastal edge. Very long with a touch of sweetparmaviolets and lingering soft peat.

Douglas Laing Directors Cut Port Ellen 1979 (35 year old) 51.1%

Bourbon/ Code: DIR0090/ Dist: May 1979 Btl: Aug 14/ Tasted: Aug 2014

The nose displays all those wonderful, mature Port Ellen characteristics. Light linseed oil, graphite, almost gristy barley and hints of seaweed, iodine and dusty peat. Still pretty vibrant and fresh with an earthy vitality, robust barley and minty/ saline top note. 

The palate is uber soft and mellow with mature citrus, parma violets, dusty earthy-peat and dusty, almost gristy barley. The barley has a lovely sweet demeanour, which is amplified by the abounding honey notes. A touch of seeweed and iodine balances the honey and the dusty spice and wood notes come through on the middle. Very long and citrusy with a light, sweet smokiness. Those dusty, sweet, earthy spices linger and a little dark chocolate finishes it off. A classic, mature Port Ellen.

Dewar Rattray Port Ellen 1982 (25 year old) 60.4%

Bourbon Cask 2466/ Dist: 1982 Btl: 2007/ Tasted: May 2008

First off, where on earth was this cask stored and what abv did it come off the still at? I mean after 25 years you would expect it to be in the mid 50’s at best! Now if I remember my basics of warehouse maturation (and I’m sure somebody will correct me if I’m wrong!). In a warm environment you tend to lose more liquid to the angels, but the liquid that remains tends to keep its alcohol level fairly high. So you would expect there to be only a handful of bottles from this cask (less than 100 I’d say), and you’d be wrong, there is 199. To me this is what makes whisky so fascinating! 

So is it any good I hearyou ask. Too right it is! It’s a dead ringer for Laphroaig! It’s intense and coastally with a medicinal/ bog myrtle peatiness and all those wonderful rubbery, kippery, fishermans sowestersaromas assailing the senses! It seems remarkably youthful, If I didn’t actually know the age then I would have guessed at somewhere in the mid-teens.

However the palate does show its age, it’s a bit shy and slightly oily, with all thearomas present and correct on the palate. Obviously its high level of alcohol dominates the proceedings but it leaves an oily/ peaty tongue coating at the death. A drop of water brings out a Caol Ila like garden fruit note, peas and apricot and relegates the rubbery, medicinal peatiness to a supporting role. On the palate it has become a bit sweeter, now showing a touch of barley and malt and fading into a briny/ leafy/ bog myrtle finish. A truly fascinating dram, enjoyable either neat or diluted!


Bladnoch Forum Port Ellen 1982 (24 year old) 60.4%

Sherry Butt 2461/ Dist: Oct 1982 Btl: Nov 2006/ Tasted: Dec 2006

Is this really 24? I swearit is only a teenager! Thereare oodles of bog myrtle-peat, quiet Laphroaig-esque in fact with iodine and medicinal notes and a great depth of coastal orange fruit. This is extremely good, wild, windswept and vegetal with a decent level of peat – Love it! (how heavily peated was this at birth?). Mature wood notes add complexity.

It is quiet oily and fruity on the palate with iodine, salt, peat, bog myrtle and loads of smoke which wafts in on the middle and fades gracefully to leave the medicinal Laphroaig-esque peat backed up by some great oak and mature wood notes. A drop of water emphasises the vegetal fruit aromas, making it deliciously soft, succulent and fruity. On the palate it is much the same bringing out it’s oiliness and emphasising the coastal smoke and melt in the mouth fruitiness.