Single malt whisky - tasting notes

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 3rd release 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.

Score: 91/100

Port Ellen 3rd release (1979) 4.5 Ruben Luyten 2010-05-06
  • aw

    I’ve only had the 6th… and it was superb. More on the vanilla than this one. Looking forward to the next few days of reviews.

    “Quite solid as an investment as well” – perish the thought! Drink the stuff!

    “Extinct” – not so. I see it on sale in at least two places online. Although your reviews have a habit of making great whiskies sell out fast.

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  • Dede

    I tasted this Pe with the 2nd, 4th and 5th releases and I really prefered the three others. This one’s really too grassy for me, with strong notes of aniseed i didn’t like a lot. It’s a matter of taste i suppose.

    My favourite one is the 2nd release, but i still have to taste the ninth release which i have a sample.




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WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.