Port Ellen 24, 1982 (Signatory)


Let’s make it a full week of reviews of whiskies from closed distilleries. On Tuesday I had a review of a Brora. Here now is a whisky from Diageo’s other once a workhorse, now a cash cow distillery: Port Ellen. Like Brora, Port Ellen was slated for zombification last year. I’m not sure where any of that stands either. This one was distilled in 1982—the year before the distillery was closed—and bottled in 2006, when Port Ellens were available at prices that seemed high then but look like crazy screaming deals now.

Port Ellen 24, 1982 (43%; Signatory; hogshead 1145; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Lemon, cereals, bright carbolic peat (Dettol), cottonwool. Sweeter on the second sniff with some seashells and vanilla. The citrus gets muskier as it sits (more lime peel than lemon now) and there are hints (just hints) of faintly tropical notes interlaced with the increasingly acidic smoke. The vanilla gets creamier with a few drops of water.

Palate: Comes in with more smoke than I would have expected from the nose, and it’s quite ashy. The texture is a bit thin but it’s quite fully flavoured—more or less all the stuff from the nose but with the citrus less pronounced. Some oaky bite here. The smoke gets a little leafy, a little acrid as it goes. With water some wet stones join the leafy smoke and there’s more of the lime peel.

Finish: Medium-long. Not a whole lot of development here. As on the palate with water and there’s a mentholated note too now in the oak.

Comments: Loved the nose; the palate and the finish were not quite at that level (though both gained depth with water). A few more ticks of abv though and this could have been a monster. No slouch at 43% either though.

Rating: 89 points.

Thanks to Rich for the sample.

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