Part of Diageo's Special Releases for 2016, this is the 16th annual release of Port Ellen and also the oldest released to date. The Port Ellen distillery was closed in 1983 and since then has become one of the world's (if not the) most sought after whiskies for drinkers and collectors alike. Matured in refill European oak butts and American oak hogsheads that were filled in 1978, only 2,940 bottles are available worldwide. Bottled at cask strength of 55.2%.
Nose: Sophisticated and understated; dry overall, opening with distant, faint smoke, before a wave of familiar sweet and smoky notes, along with hints of hessian and warm wood.. The distant smoke soon grows closer and more fragrant, while above it drift pleasing sweet aromas of honey-cured smoked meats and root vegetable. Through all this a fresh, cleansing note rises, to vie with sweet mint and sharp citrus. Finally, smooth, dark cocoa, vanilla and more wood smoke.
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 mouth 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.