Port Ellen 12th release (1979)

This Port Ellen 12th release is now the oldest official bottling of Port Ellen. From refill American Oak and refill European Oak casks filled in 1979.

People who buy this should sign a form, promising that they won’t try to sell it on eBay for the next three years (at least). Also, Diageo should force shops to stick to the official price of the yearly Special Releases – it’s clear that some shops are holding back stock only to sell it at higher prices later. They’re the ones to blame for this year’s absolutely shocking price hike.


Port Ellen 12th releasePort Ellen 32 yo 1979 ‘12th release’
(52,5%, OB 2012, 2964 btl.)

Nose: very maritime. Brine, seashells, oysters, camphor, wet gravel… Lots of mineral and a few floral hints too. Subtle smoke and iodine. Fresh, sharp and focused, sure, but too one-dimensional for an official Port Ellen in my opinion. Water helps, it brings out lemon and rhubarb, as well as an oriental wood scent. Aromatic, but maybe not a total benchmark.

Mouth: peaty and briney, medium weight, with ashes and a grapefruit bitterness. Hints of gentian. Seaweed. Then a herbalness and leathery notes. Resinous oak. Cold smoke. Again a tad too focused on the earthy, mineral and pungent side of PE. Sweet and sour kiwi notes or faint vanilla only come out very late and in tiny amounts.

Finish: dry, long, fairly zesty and coastal with liquorice and a pinch of salt.

It’s clear that this year’s bottling is a brilliant showcase of the coastal, mineral and austere side of Port Ellen. I tend to prefer the more balanced, vanilla-infused expressions though (7th or 10th release for instance). This is far from a disappointment, but at this price level I don’t feel the slightest need to chase it in stores. Around € 750, but I’ve seen £ 1500 in one of these greedy stores who think they can get away with everything.

Score: 91/100