Port Ellen 1979 (OMC) Cask # 3081
Hm. What to make of this one.
First things first…I want to know who the hell thought it was a good idea to put Port Ellen in a rum cask. Seriously. One of my favorite distilleries (albeit no longer with us) meets one of my least favorites spirits. As a relative scotch purist, this is one of the most overt blasphemies and bastardizations of a damn near sainted malt I have ever encountered.
Thankfully the rum notes that dominate the nose are nearly invisible across the palate. (Remember…as we’ve said before…the nose picks up much more than the taste buds ever will). So, the question is…does the odd nose profile, courtesy of the rum influence, manage to kill this whisky? Fortunately…no. I think though, it may have been a battle to the death, with the Islay contender eking a victory out at heavy cost to personal well-being.
What this Old Malt Cask offering gives us is a nose full of wet rubber bands and glue. Characteristics I find in most aged rums I’ve tried. The slightly uncorfortable icing on this sweet desert is a fishy and oily tinged layer of briny Islay familiarity. The smoke and peat has mellowed gracefully by this age, but the fruits that would normally start to assert themselves are being held back by the other, odder notes. To be honest, this borders on unpleasant, but there are some pleasant notes that work as a saving grace.
As mentioned a couple paragraphs back, the palate is surprisingly bereft of this synthetic olfactory experience. Here we can see the Port Ellen we love. It is tarry and rubbery. Salted cooked greens and lemon pepper at the fore. A lovely lingering affair that shows little to non of the rum influence.
The maltmonster hooked me up with this one (though he hates these mentions…there is a reason here). Being as averse to the cane juice as I am, he actually apologized for passing this over. Though half in jest, I couldn’t help but think he feels as I do. Keep that sugary distillate away from the nectar of Islay.
Interestingly enough…a while back I tasted a rum that had been matured (or at least finished) in a former Laphroaig cask. The results were an abomination. Here we see the effects of reversing the process, and maturing a whisky in a rum cask. While not an offence to the senses as the rum was, this is not quite the success that may have been hoped for. Neat to note that both developed a somewhat artificial note to them.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Pat