Single malt whisky - tasting notes

06 Aug 2013

Port Ellen 1969 (G&M Connoisseurs’ Choice)

Posted by: Ruben Luyten In: Port Ellen

Gordon & MacPhail have bottled several Port Ellen 1969 expressions. It started with 10 years old releases in the Connoisseurs Choice series (famous black label with red letters), then three or four 15 and 16 years old releases (CC gradient brown labels as well as Sestante labels), plus two cask strength 1969/1985 versions with cream labels (including a legendary one for Intertrade).

Actually we can’t say with 100% certainty which one we’re reviewing here. I recently bought this miniature with a gradient brown label but contrary to full bottles that display the age in a light circle towards the top of the label, G&M CC miniatures of that era mention the year of distillation in that spot. Based on the font used for ‘Distilled 1969’ though, which is different in both labels, I am quite confident this is the 16 years old version. Whiskyfun has a review of the same miniature.

Remember Port Ellen distillery was reopened in April 1967 after it had been silent since 1929 and rebuilt in 1966. A 1969 distillation is not something you get to try every week and we probably can’t go further back in time than this.

 

Port Ellen 1969 G&M Connoisseurs ChoicePort Ellen 16 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs’ Choice +/- 1985)

Nose: far better than I was expecting (after all it’s young and PE was meant to be a blender’s whisky). Very expressive given the low alcohol volume, and very balanced as well. Very maritime (Caol Ila style) with kelp and oysters, but quite fruity at the same time. Lots of cut apples, lime and tangerine. Hints of metal polish. Some marzipan. Mint. Soft medicinal notes and warm tar. Clean young Port Ellen, but the subtlety and the balance with the fruits is just excellent. Mouth: rather light, yes, but expressive. Again much sweeter and fruitier than expected. Sweetened grapefruit juice, lime and kumquats. Mixed with grassy peat and liquorice, a bit of smoke and plenty of kippers. Hints of moss. Hints of Yunnan pu-erh. Such a brilliant combination. Finish: long, half ashy and half coastal (smoked fish).

I’m sure the cask strength versions of these casks are even more stellar, but this is a highly drinkable Port Ellen with an outstanding balance. I like these fruitier versions a lot. Rarely seen in auctions, but TWE has a bottle of the 15yo for around € 1000.

Score: 92/100

Port Ellen 1969 (G&M Connoisseurs’ Choice) 4.5 Ruben Luyten 2013-08-06

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  • Tony: yeah - the price is why I have held off. I bought 3 indie 30 year old Caol Ilas for the price of this one. There are nearly 6000 bottles - will be ha
  • HP: I think this is an amazing whisky. It is one of my 3 "if you could only have 3 bottles of whisky what would they be?" choices. Pure bliss. Very hard t
  • HP: I just tasted this at a whisky society here in the Pacific Northwest. This is a great whisky - but I'd never drop $200 for it. I'd happily pay $100, b

Coming up

  • Caol Ila 30 Year Old (2014)
  • Elements of Islay Cl7
  • Benromach 5 Year Old
  • Bruichladdich Octomore 6.3 258ppm

1679 notes by Ruben

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