Only 2940 individually numbered bottles world-wide from the Port Ellen distillery.
From refill European Oak butts and American Oak hogsheads filled in 1978.
A self-assured, well-integrated and hugely complex Port Ellen in which subtlety is all, with an effortless balance of sweet fruit notes, deeper sapid tones, citrus, honey, smoke, fire and oak.
This is the oldest Port Ellen ever released, and in the words of one taster “these old Port Ellens get better and better!”
Appearance: Polished teak. Good beading.
Nose: Sophisticated and understated; dry overall, opening with distant, faint smoke, before a wave of familiar sweet and smoky notes, among which hints of hessian and warm wood are all that suggest great age. The distant smoke soon grows closer and more fragrant, while above it drift pleasing sweet aromas of honey-cured smoked meats or root vegetable. Through all this a fresh, cleansing note rises, to vie with sweet mint and sharp citrus -winey hints too. Finally, smooth, dark cocoa, some vanilla and more wood smoke. With water, first sweet, then more muted and savoury, though later a fruity clarity sweetly returns.
Palate: Wonderful at natural strength. Sweet, prickly and drying, with a great mix of wood ash, burnt jam tarts, treacle toffee and caramelized orange. Then yet more all-pervading smoke with a spicy-herbal complex featuring cloves. Water makes things cooler and milder yet doesn’t alter the well-balanced flavour profile. Dark toffee first, then smoked meats, kippers, ash and cleansing phenols.
Finish: Long, cooling and complex: drying, yet also coating. Instantly appetising, with toffee apple, burnt toast, lemon zest, ripe red apples, a burnt plum tart. Deeply herbal and heavy with wood smoke, which is softer with water.