We don’t have much information about Douglas Murdoch. The brand originated as a subsidiary of Campbell & Clark, a blending company founded in 1934. The mother group also owned distilleries such as Glenury Royal, Glenlochy, Benromach and Fettercairn.
In 1992 and 1993 Douglas Murdoch bottled three Port Ellen expressions, one Ledaig and a couple of blends. After two years the name fell into disuse and the entire group was dissolved in the early 2000s.
Port Ellen 13 yo 1979 (40%, Douglas Murdoch)
Nose: quite narrow, with a firm medicinal footprint, beach sand and a mix of seaweed and ginger. There is a hint of lemon cake in the distance but the salty peat, antiseptics and tarry fisherman’s ropes are bigger. Hints of inner bicycle tubes come out as well.
Mouth: there’s clean peat but not a lot of smoke. It’s more on coastal, saline notes, with a light prickle. Big ashy notes too. Later some sweet herbs appear, and even a vague hint of honey. This is very similar to a middle-aged Caol Ila nowadays – let’s just hope enough of that is put aside for bottling at a higher age.
Finish: not too long, focusing on cold ashes, mineral oils and smoky notes.
Nice to see the sharpness of Port Ellen shines through despite the modest bottling strength. I’m convinced the score would be higher with a bit of extra oomph, and of course the older expressions are definitely playing in a different league. Nonetheless it is interesting to try a legendary distillery early on in its development. You can still buy this from The Whisky Exchange for instance – in fact it’s one of the cheapest Port Ellen bottles they have on offer right now.