Port Ellen 1979 32 Years Old 11th Release

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Distillery/Brand: Port Ellen | Region: Islay | ABV: 53.9% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 25 | Taste: 25 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 24 | Rating: 98

Port Ellen Maltings was one of the first whisky related structures I saw as I drove into Bowmore from Islay Airport. It’s nothing but a huge drab structure with massive chimneys billowing peat smoke. And there’s pretty much nothing there to remind you of the distillery that once stood there till 1983. Except for maybe the warehouses that now hold stocks of maturing Lagavulin and Coal Ila instead of Port Ellen whisky as they rightfully should.

You see the distillery has been closed for 32 years, which coincidentally is the exact age of the whisky I am writing about, however, there is constant malting taking place there to supply the islands’ distilleries. The malting is an automated process and prepares the malt to the exact specifications of each distillery. This is quite a convenient little process allowing the distilleries to free up malting floors and convert them to more lucrative functions like maturation.

My first Port Ellen was a single cask Part Des Anges distilled in 1982 and aged for 24 years. Unfortunately for me I had it very early on in my career as a whisky enthusiast and, while appreciated, did not truly grasp the true essence of tasting that rare liquid.

This time around I wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

Unveiled at a stunning tasting I attended a couple of days ago I excused my self rather rudely from the rest of the guests and found my self a secluded corner to sit and savor this piece of whisky history.

Distilled in 1979 and matured in second-fill American Oak for 32 years this is, by far, one of the most sublime whiskies I have ever tasted. My sample is from a brand new bottled and served at a cask strength of 53.9%

Nose: Before I begin let me tell you everything about this whisky is an essay in perfection. The poise. The balance. The lightness of the smoke. The hint of peat. That lime. That zest. Those green pears. A touch of hay. Enveloped in a coal fire those under-ripe green berries. That delicate sweet vanilla. That soft brine on green olives. So much understatement, yet, everything so profound. This is perfect. This is what dreams are made of. 25/25

Palate: If the nose was an essay in perfection the palate is like rain after drought. The perfect mouthfeel coated in sharp white pepper pricks of pleasure. The smoke is back. So is the lime. And the zest. Vanilla pudding. Perfectly poised oak. Ash. Green pears. Ground spice. The spirit sits on your palate and coats it wonderfully. Each flavor sublime on it’s own. 25/25

Finish: Wonderfully long and smooth. Ash. Oak. Lime. Lemon. 24/25

Overall Comments: I don’t know what to say, really. I’m at a complete loss for words here. This is truly one of the most beautifully crafted whiskies mere mortals have ever made. Diageo makes a killing every time it releases a disgustingly priced bottle from the stocks lying around. But let me tell you something. What ever the price, this one is a bargain.

Rating: 98


Paul John Bold

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Distillery/Brand: Paul John | Region: India | ABV: 46% | Colour: Dirty Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85

Amrut, after having blazed an Indian trail across the whisky landscape, has in it’s wake a solid single malt offering from Paul John Whisky from Goa.

Their spirit is nice and flavorful with a lot of tropical fruits. They also have a nice mix of peated and unpeated expressions to choose from alongside some rather tasty single cask offerings.

For the last few months or so I’ve been working hard to rub shoulders (read connect on Twitter) with whisky bloggers from around the world to basically increase my knowledge base and learn from the good ones. One of those bloggers is @TheWhiskyWire who routinely holds ‘Tweet Tastings’ for different expressions.

Essentially how this works is that interested bloggers get a 90ml sample from him and then at the exact same time around the world the samples are opened. What follows is a sort of collective global tasting notes on Twitter which allows for different opinions and comments. Needless to say it’s a super fun exercise which lasts for about an hour.

You get to connect with other bloggers and share tasting notes making it a cool way to taste a whisky.

The Bold is fully peated, served at 46% and, as you can guess, my sample is from a 90ml mini.

Nose: Deep peat. Oak. Dates. Bananas. Chocolate. Wild berries. Sandalwood. Warm it up and the flavors come through more. Now more dark honey. Warm citrus. Bourbon. Vanilla. Hint of black pepper. Soft leather. Green tobacco leaf. Cigar box. I really like the nose. It’s multi-layered and you can sit with it for a while. 22/25

Palate: Full bodied. Smoke. Tobaccos. It’s quite savory. I might have wanted it to be just a touch on the sweeter side. All spice. Cinnamon. Oak. Bitter chocolate. Touch of salt. Brine. Aniseed. All enveloped in woodfire. The palate is nice enough but I feel the nose promise more. 21/25

Finish: Medium to long. Oak. All spice. 21/25

Overall Comments: Look, this is not a bad whisky. I like the peat in here. It’s different and nicely layered (especially the nose). I would have liked some of Paul Johns’ signature fruity flavors to come out more but they didn’t. Maybe they were going for a different approach. Does it work? Yes and No. Lovely nose, average palate and finish. Should you buy it? Sure, why not? Or maybe better split with a couple of friends.

Whatever said and done this was my first Tweet Tasting and so the experience was top notch even if the whisky really wasn’t.

Rating: 85