Port Ellen 16th Annual Release 37 Years Old 55.2% NV
|Serie||Diageo Special Release 2016|
|Distilled date||Not Specified|
|Condition||In Original Container|
Serge Valentin (91)
It was a 1983 last year (WF 92), but we’re being offered a 1978 again this year. Ooh, the ultra-punchy Rare Malts 20 and 22, remember? Colour: refreshingly golden. Nose: some say Port Ellen is/was best at around 25, and that’s not totally impossible if you ask me. This is absolutely lovable, but it may be missing of that that, say impact that younger PEs had. Around luxury cardboard (?) and cough syrup, with a little plasticine, as well as a touch of, wait, could that be sage? Verbena? A little quiet perhaps, but water may make it furious, let’s see… With water: water works very well. Seawater, first rain, hessian, and well-brewed old Pu-erh tea. But it didn’t get any more furious, after all it’s become an old lady… Mouth (neat): oh! Unexpectedly sharp and millimetric, on smoked lemon juice. I should have taken the 22 Rare Malts for due comparison today, like I did yesterday with the Brora 1972. My bad, it’s too late… With water: rather smoked brine. A little camphor as well. Finish: long, and very peaty. It did not lose its smokiness! Comments: on par with the 1979, I’d say. Careful with water. It’s a bit like those old sports cars, you dream of them, and when you drive them, you’re a tiny wee tad disappointed. Just a tiny wee tad, I’d call that the ‘E-Type effect’. But no worries Jag people, we love you. So, a truly superb old PE, for sure, but the bodywork may have become a little more flabbergasting than the engine (and no it hasn’t got any brakes).
Nose: starts earthy and coastal, on fishing nets, damp canvas, a bit of shoe polish. Lots of leathery notes as well. Waxed papers. Thinking about it, these notes are very similar to the Brora. Or to a Banff for instance, or other idiosyncratic old-style malts. Only this has a bigger sooty layer. Over time it becomes rounder, but not much, with some unripe pineapple and verbena. And after a lot of time also a buttery, creamy vanilla touch. Overall though one of the sharper years. Mouth: confirmation of the sharpness. Saltwater, liquorice, lots of ashes and earthy notes. Camphor. Still a touch of mint and vanilla sweetness but very shy. Light pepper. A hint of mustard cress. Finish: long, with earth and peat, as well as verbena and the bitter-sweetness of burnt sugar.
While trying this at the masterclass, I heard some people say ‘as much as we want to hate it, it’s simply too good’. It is, and I especially like the combination of sharpness and elegance