If you’ve had a look at my Distillery Rankings page, you might have noticed something that wouldn’t surprise you; that Port Ellen and Brora hold the top spots… BY 5 WHOLE POINTS.
This probably wouldn’t surprise you because we all know that the whisky is old, expensive, hyped, etc.
But I’ve been thinking about this lately: why do I rate these whiskies so highly? Is it just because of my expectations? Would I rate the whisky the same if I tasted it blind?
I guess partially it also comes down to taste. Generally, I seem to prefer older whiskies with a huge amount of complexity that aren’t over-oaked. There really aren’t that many expressions of younger Brora or Port Ellen that we can get hold of, so it makes it hard to try (though Diageo are building the distilleries anew, so we may well do in a few years time). And these days, it is almost exclusively bottled at cask strength, which I also prefer. I like peaty whisky, again, old peated whisky being one of my favourites because as the smoke mellows you get more complexity coming out while still keeping spirit character and power.
Equally, I’m sure that there are very mediocre versions of both Port Ellen and Brora out there, I just haven’t tried many yet. I’m told that there are some disastrous PE’s from Sherry casks.
Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s another PE:
Port Ellen 1982 Wilson & Morgan 60%
Colour: Light Amber
Nose: Sweet, fruity, smoky, salty and oily. Salted fish, golden raisin, leather and cigar, sea air and salt, great clean lemon, sugared almonds, marzipan, dark chocolate and espresso, liquorice. Lovely nose.
Water: Quite different now, less smoke and cleaner. With more water you get more fruit- lemon, red apple and black pepper.
Taste: Incredible, flawless arrival, oils coating, spot on mouthfeel, then full power peat and minerals (almost Kilchoman-like!) then recedes into sweeter fruitiness, lemon. Really is amazing how powerful and peaty this is after 28 years.
Water: Very clean arrival, amazing development on a great balance of red apple fruit and oily smoke.
Finish: Long length. Awesome and oily, saltiness staying, lovely lemon citrus. Quite simple but, equally, it’s also quite stunning.
Bottled 2011 at 28yo from a Sherry cask. A pretty perfect beast of a whisky. Not massively complex but doesn't need to be. Another one for the 90 Club! And another incredible example of Port Ellen too. I could imagine Kilchoman tasting like this in 20 something years time actually.
Thanks for reading!
Scotch Review #829
Whisky Network Review #991
Network Average: 75.2
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
75-79 Very Good
Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as the Global Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.