Port Ellen 12th Release Review

Port Ellen 12th Release049

52.5% abv

Score:  94/100


Nearing the end of this run of Port Ellen OB reviews.  One more after this (the 5th release), but I may hold off on that one in favour of sharing notes on a few others.  We’ll see.

Anyway…there’s a reason I saved this one for the back end.  I was sort of edging toward it as nearing the apex of the line (those I’ve tried anyway).  Notice I said ‘nearing’.  Basically, we saved the best for last.  This and the 5th are bloody mind blowing.

We’ve spoken much of Port Ellen in the past couple weeks, so let’s keep it short here.  This is another 1979, but bottled in 2012 this time.  32 years young, and still vibrant and radiant.  The gorgeous soft fruit notes that collide with the aromas of ‘all things Islay’ makes for not so much a rollercoaster ride, but a gently rolling, ebbing and flowing of subtle changes.  It’s the tart grapefruit notes on the palate, though, that had me salivating.  Mixing melon and grapefruit with ‘old whisky aroma’ (OWA) is a rare treat and absolutely harmonious.  In short…love this whisky.  Immensely.  Port Ellen has an incredible hype behind it.  This is why.

Limited to a mere 2,964 bottles, and generally sold with a price tag that is in and around those same numbers now.

Nose:  Melon.  And more melon.  Watermelon, to be exact.  Fishy, seaside notes and damp grass (if any of you have been to Islay, imagine sitting up on the Battery behind Bowmore distillery).  Soft milk chocolate.  Oily, even on the nose.  Warm leather.  Lemongrass.  Soft and creamy.  Pepper and peat.  Smoke, of course, but far off and ‘home-y’.

Palate:  Chocolate.  Beautiful, rich grapefruit and grapefruit pith notes bring tartness to the balance the sweet.  Oak is strong and sharp, in a good way.  Lots of lemon and citric notes.  The smoke grows with diffusion.  Drying at first, but then juicy and mouthwatering.

Thoughts:  Beautiful balance of sweet and sour.  Tart and tangy.  One of the top three Port Ellen I’ve ever tried.  Utterly magic.

*Sincere thanks to the anonymous gent who kindly poured this, and several other, Port Ellen for me at a recent gathering.  Unforgettable.  Slainte.


 – Images & Words:  Curt

8 thoughts on “Port Ellen 12th Release Review

  1. JohnGargo

    Can I request a review for the 9th release? I recently invested in a bottle of it and it’s sitting on my shelf waiting for the right moment to crack that seal.

        1. Jeff

          It does depend indeed, and it highlights a vital difference:drinkers care about price and value in an absolute sense because their investment is never recovered; investors, “flippers” really, don’t care about prices so long as they always trend upwards – which is one reason they love to hype bottles. Like the motivations/objectives of producers, those of investors often stand in direct opposition to those of consumers – but, to read a lot of commentary, we’re all one big happy family based on a common interest in whisky.


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