Ever the most prized component of the Diageo Special Releases, this year’s expression of Port Ellen — an Islay distillery shuttered in 1983 — is by far the most expensive whisky in the collection. That said, it’s a full $500 cheaper than last year’s Port Ellen, which was also a 37 year old expression (and also considerably lower in proof). This year’s release, distilled in 1979, is bottled from refill American oak hogsheads and butts.
An exceptional expression of Port Ellen, it’s impossible not to love this whisky from start to finish.
The nose folds gentle peat smoke into lush fruit: that classic Port Ellen banana character, plus pear, chamomile, grapefruit, and tangerine. On the palate, the toasty banana notes dominate, mixing beautifully within the whisky’s supple, silky body while secondary notes of lavender (another classic Port Ellen note) and toasted wood emerge amidst a background of distant, smoky fires. The whisky is so soft and gentle that it can be easy to forget it’s 37 years old, particularly as a finish of silky milk chocolate and caramel wash over the experience. As the whisky fades, it leaves behind hints of raisin, fig jam, and a touch of toffee.
Tragically, we don’t get entire bottles of this stuff, and have to satisfy ourselves with a mere 50ml sample. This is one of those cases where a single, simple dram just can’t do the experience the proper justice it deserves, and my tasting notes feel sadly incomplete. Diageo, send provisions.
102 proof. 2988 bottles produced.