Here we go for the 14th annual release of this iconic dram!
This is the oldest release of Port Ellen to come from the original distillers, refill European/ American oak casks filled in 1978 and deeming only 2,964 individually numbered bottles.
Appearance: Bright, deep gold with amber lights. Fine beading.
•Nose: Sophisticated and understated; dry overall, opening with distant, faint smoke, before a wave of familiar sweet and smoky notes, among which hints of hessian and warm wood are all that suggest great age. The distant smoke soon grows closer and more fragrant, while above it drift pleasing sweet aromas of honey-cured smoked meats or root vegetable. Through all this a fresh, cleansing note rises, to vie with sweet mint and sharp citrus - winey hints too. Finally, smooth, dark cocoa, some vanilla and more wood smoke. With water, first sweet, then more muted and savoury, though later a fruity clarity sweetly returns.
•Body: Smooth and agreeably oily.
•Palate: Immediate and lively! At first, rich and honeyed, the sweetness perfectly balanced by maritime salt as if to suggest sweet seaweed. Then, unexpected notes of citrus and ginger burst like lime and ginger marmalade on wholemeal toast. In turn, this sunny edge is clouded by sweet smoke, rising against a velvety backdrop of dark chocolate. The rich character remains in essence unchanged when reduced with water; still warming, the citrus becomes orange oil, with ginger and modest smoke.
•Finish: Very long and warming, with crisp ginger and citrus, and fresh, menthol-clean notes that rise against a backdrop of drying, oaky wood smoke.
A glorious grande dame, superb in every way and with a poise and self-assurance born of long experience. An unexpected Port Ellen with a warming, spicy, gingery edge to its traditional sweet and smoky nature: captivating at cask strength, while a little water reveals a charming sweetness in the nose and richness and depth on the palate.
Tasting Notes Courtesy of Diageo.