Though the Islay distillery closed in 1983, Diageo cranks out a Port Ellen Special Release every year. This is the 16th installment of the whisky. Distilled in 1978 and aged for 37 years, it is also the oldest Port Ellen ever released… and likely the most expensive, too.
As is common, this release is a vatting of refill American oak hogsheads and refill European oak sherry butts.
Old Port Ellen is always a beautiful experience, and this year’s release is hard not to love. The nose quickly moves well beyond simple peat smoke and into notes of banana, fresh brioche, and lavender. In time, nostalgic notes of brewed coffee, furniture polish, and antique-store-old wood arrive. On the palate, the smoke is beautifully laced with floral notes, plus ample notes of fresh herbs — more lavender, thyme, and rosemary. Lightly bitter orange peel coats the sides of the mouth, while petrol notes linger after everything else fades away.
The pricetag of Port Ellen has long been headed in only one direction, so you can be forgiven for passing this by if the price isn’t right. That said, the overall experience is highly worthwhile, taking you on a journey from Islay to the ether and back again.
110.4 proof. Less than 550 bottles available in the U.S.
A / $4000 / malts.com