06 May 2010
Port Ellen 3rd release (1979)
Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Port Ellen
Ah, official Port Ellen releases… They’re expensive but usually very good. Quite solid as an investment as well (a first release will fetch almost € 1000).
The annual releases are always 1978 casks for pair release numbers and 1979 casks for odd releases. These 1970’s Port Ellen casks are becoming rare these days – most independent bottlings are from 1982 or 1983. I personally have the impression 1970’s casks show more complexity although exceptions exist of course.
So far, nine annual releases have been made available and this year there should be a 10th release which will probably be the last one. For now, I did a direct comparison of the 3rd, 6th and 7th release. I already published my notes of the excellent 9th release in the past.
Port Ellen 24 yo 1979 ‘3rd release’
(57,3%, OB 2003, 9000 btl.)
Nose: this is the sharper, flinty / mineral kind of Port Ellen, although it’s not an extreme example. It has a slightly pungent profile that I associate with wet limestone, lemon and cut grass. Ethereal hints of nail polish as well. Quite some alcohol. It misses the feminine side of vanilla that softens the 7th or 9th release. Evolves on antiseptic, diesel oil and candle wax. Walnuts as well. Faint farmy notes in the background. Hardly coastal. Water makes the grassy and ethereal notes stand out. Mouth: strong attack with sharp peat and lemon juice. Quite salty now, a bit too salty even. Some peppery notes (the spiciest of the three OB’s I’m comparing). Water brings out the oak and adds grassy notes. Finish: long, smoky, quite dry and salty.
I would call this “the grassy one”. Its mouth-feel is hotter than the other two (could the extra 3% really make such a difference?) and you feel a certain powerful roughness, even at 24 years. It shows more peat than the other two which could be a plus for some people. An extra point for the farminess. Extinct.