Google Middle-aged and really old Port Ellen

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

June 27, 2022


Little Duos, today middle-aged
and really old Port Ellen

Let's remember that Port Ellen Distillery will reopen right next year! So no more sad glances through the slightly opaque windows of the Maltings. I've wanted to select a sparring partner that was distilled even before the Queen visited the Distillery (or perhaps rather the Maltings), in 1980, and chose this rather young 1976 from Wilson & Morgan's that, rather bizarrely, we hadn't tried yet (but I remember I had found a stash of bottles in a wee shop in Sienna, a long time ago). Picture: at the PE Maltings, 2005.



Port Ellen 18 yo 1976/1995 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection)

Port Ellen 18 yo 1976/1995 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection) Four stars and a half
Later 1976s by Wilson & Morgan, bottled in 1998, had been glowingly splendid in my book (all WF 93), so our hopes are very high. Let's go chase new rubber boots and old tarry ropes if you agree… Colour: straw. Nose: instant tarry delights, with indeed new wellies (large sizes!), new tyres or 'visiting a Tesla service centre', then smoked fish, engine oil, stale seawater at low tide, plus notes of fresh-cracked pepper that would usually rather belong to Talisker, but there.  Mouth: all the glory of younger Port Ellens, still full of lemons and grapefruits, ridden with notes of fresh putty and plasticine, and then overrun by tar and rubber, in a pretty Michelin way. All that may remain a little simplistic, actually, with sweet lemony notes that would tend to fight the smokiness, but I still just love it. This, chilled and with smoked salmon, ho-ho! Finish: not eternal as a Port Ellen, a little sour perhaps (tarragon?) but the typical plasticine and putty in the aftertaste do sign this very lovely one. Comments: excellent, if perhaps not totally legendary.

SGP:567 - 89 points.

Port Ellen 1980/2021 (59.6%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American Oak Hogshead and ex-Sherry European Oak But, 555 bottles, 2022)

Port Ellen 1980/2021 (59.6%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American Oak Hogshead and ex-Sherry European Oak But, 555 bottles, 2022) Five stars
Said to be the oldest Port Ellen ever bottled (it's 41) and stemming from the two very last casks of 1980, both having spent all their lives on Islay. I've already had a sip of this one and have been rather impressed, pretty unsurprisingly. Colour: light gold. Nose: everything came together. I mean, it's not Page + Plant + Jones + Bonham, it's Led Zeppelin, see what I mean? Which, incidentally, makes it a little hard to describe, as not an aroma would even start to wander off. I mean, it's Port Ellen (bravo, S., that was really helpful.) With water: not a single sign of 'aging', this as coherent and bright as it would have been at ten, except that tropical fruits are now popping out, especially maracuja. This nose is totally extraordinary, tight as a great bone-dry chenin blanc or a verdejo from Rueda in Spain. May I recommend a Belondrade Y Lurton? Mouth (neat): massive, even pungent, ultra-tight and focused, on smoked grasses and bitter citrus, plus rubber, tar and dry oils. Surgically Port Ellen. With water: I know this is neither the place nor the moment, but I like it that they wouldn't have put these old glories in more or less aesthetically pleasing crystal decanters that only our old fur-wearing aunts would actually find, well, aesthetical. Other than that, I believe this is Bacchus's own whisky. Finish: medium, sublimely lively. A little pepper in the aftertaste , but no proper oak spices in sight. Comments: I cannot not think of a great white wine when trying this Port Ellen. Wine freaks ahoy; after all, a very recent 75cl bottle of Romanée Conti would be seriously more expensive. In any case, one of the fruitiest and grandest Port Ellens I've ever tried.
SGP:566 - 94 points.

(Thank you Jens!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Port Ellen we've tasted so far







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