Port Ellen 1980 (Silver Seal)

Port Ellen 1980 (Silver Seal)

Over the years many people have traded and gifted samples for me to try. Not all of them make it onto the blog, certainly not right away. So here’s a very belated review of a Port Ellen 1980. I can’t remember who was responsible for delivering it to my desk, but hey, many thanks!

The whisky was bottled back in 2002. Italian bottler Silver Seal had quite an extensive series of Port Ellen releases (those were the days…) but this seems to be one of the more obscure bottlings named ‘Special Reserve’. In fact I believe the first ever bottling by Silver Seal was a sister cask – same vintage, same age.

Now the early 1980s vintages from this distillery are supposedly a little less stellar, but I don’t think I’ve tried 1980 before.


Port Ellen 21 yo 1980 ‘Special Reserve’ (46%, Silver Seal 2002)

Nose: classic. A lot of iodine, mixed with apple peelings, lemons and this mix of sweet spearmint and paraffin that Port Ellen can have. Subtle hints of vegetal oil and rainwater, with subtle smoke. Echoes of yellow fruits and vanilla as well, before it moves back towards minerals, hay and seaweed.

Mouth: a pretty perfect balance of minerality and roundness. Putty and seashells, but also hints of almonds and vanilla. Maybe tangerine. Mid-palate it closes down a little, getting slightly rougher, on green leafy notes, dried grasses, fat kippers and antiseptics, with a faint hint of bitterness. Smoke, tobacco leaves and hints of farmyard.

Finish: medium length. More of this grassy / herbal side, along with herbal smoke.

Perhaps a slightly higher ABV could have propelled this to a higher score. As it stands it is a very drinkable Port Ellen with plenty of classic markers. Great to have this one after so many years.