You say “Port Ellen” and the whisky lover freaks out: his eyes gets shiny, salivation rears, backbone starts saking and (if he has some serious issues with the proportions of reality and how to handle it) maybe also pelvic area leaps. Port Ellen isn’t a simple distillery name anymore: it’s an icon, a status symbol, a bunch of grapes dangling in front of a lot of poor foxes… The great OBs are just rich collectors’ stuff by now, the indies ask crazy prices even if, as skilled pepole know, Port Ellen is a two-faced distillery: it often gives top level gems, it often gives horrible casks. If you get your hands on a Port Ellen cask nowadays, you can be sure that it will sell in a second, even if at unaffordable prices, regardless of the quality. Still, it was way too much time that we didn’t have a Port Ellen here on Whiskyfacile… In the darkest corners of our sample cabinet we found this ex-sherry single cask, matured for 30 years, from 1982 to 2012: when you could still buy a sample of a Port Ellen online without having to pawn your grandma’s jewels. Bottler is Malts of Scotland, a solid reality in the indie bottlers world from the counrty of Adorno, Kant and Rummenigge. Let’s try it: and hopefully the oyster will hide a pearl inside.
N: boom! First of all, it’s 58% and it seems it’s reduced at 46… Alcohol must have remained in Germany. Sherry and peat work perfectly here: peat is soft, in Port Ellen’s style, with a burden of acrid smoke, full but light and elegant. There’s also a clearly coastal note, that reminds us of the waves that crash on Port Ellen: and how could we forget to mention this lovely note of parched seaweed? Meanwhile, sherry left only some powerful hint of red fruit (a lovely strawberry jam is here in front of us), but lets a lot of nuances flow: leather and licorice, a little dirty, then red oranges
and chinotto, panettone, tarte tatin. A deep and herbal mint note. Marron glacé; candied ginger dripped in chocolate. Do you know that peculiar aroma of burning wood, hot and fiery? Here it is.
P: first impact is impressive, it has a clear mentholated note that’s delicious, it never goes away – this goes along with a lovely saltiness (sea water, seaweed, and salt itself) and some acrid and mineral note from the peat. Sweet pipe smoke. Stunning intensity, with a lot of ripe red oranges and a heavy and deep sweetness; tarte tatina gain, dried figs; tamarind; some red fruit in confit (blackberries?); and oh, such a licorice, such a raisin, such a woodiness… Impressively compact,
F: lasts so long you can almost forget how your mouth tasted like before this dram. Mint again, clinged on a lovely sea saltiness. Lips are salty, sticky sweets rage for hours; pipe smoke again; again oranges. Maybe the very last sherried Port Ellen we’ll ever taste? Well, if it’s the last one, it has shoulders strong enough to bear this burden. Devastating intensity: compact on the palate, with a thumping of flavour that stays there, mastodonic and bulletproof; and the complexity on the nose gives new nuances to every nosing. A real champion, that reconciles us with a distillery too often overvalued by the cruel market laws: 94/100. Luckily we bought this sample years ago…
Recommended soundtrack: Tears for fears – Everybody wants to rule the world.