I tried this one for the first time about a week and a half ago. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to sit down with it twice more. In the first two instances I was in the company of good friends (and many other fine malts). In the last instance I was alone while taking notes. This more dedicated time only served to reinforce what initial impressions told me: this is a spectacular example of Port Ellen. Probably one of my all time favorites, to be honest.
This expression, a 25 year old, bottled by the Laing Brothers in 2008 (long before the company division), is almost like a time machine for me; immediately bringing back memories of the oceanic breezes, chimney smoke, farm life and maritime trappings of life on Islay. If you’ve ever awakened to the early morning breezes on the island you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I’m not sure why you’re reading here and not searching Expedia for airfare deals.
There are a few Port Ellen expressions I’ve tried that not only hint at the sensory experience of being on Islay, but actually serve to mimic it. Whiskies that so encapsulate the smells of the island’s villages they seem almost transportive in their abilities to transcend distance. This is one. They’re few and far between, but when found the impact is immensely powerful and evocative. Elegant and sophisticated. One for the ages.
This cask was selected by, and bottled for, Kensington Wine Market here in Calgary back in 2008. Unfortunately that means it’s now but a memory. Great cask selection, guys. This one is a showstopper.
Nose: Sweet, soft fruit notes. A touch of lime and maybe honeydew. Subtle peat and a very elegant smokiness. Vanilla and cream. Seaside breezes and wet shores. A great gristiness here, like freshly milled barley. Biscuits. Salty dough or pie shells. Faint dry leather.
Palate: Oh, man, what an arrival. So much harmony and complexity, and so much sweeter than expected. Salt and pepper. Licorice. Peat and smoke, as we’d expect. A touch of honey. A squeeze of citrus. Like chewing soft grains of barley. Still creamy, bit with a nice lime counterpoint. Some apple.
Thoughts: An almost perfect realization of Port Ellen. Exceptionally harmonious.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt