Whisky Review: Port Ellen 1978 Aged 35 Years 14th Release

Style: Smoky, Fruity and Complex

Exceptionally rich vanilla, charred oak and glazed hazelnut gently blended in with barbeque smoke, ultra-aged sweet peat and a drop of brine. Fragrant floral perfume and drier green mint oscillating in and out, white chocolate sponge cake, boiled yellow fruits, some focused herbal overtone leaving hot trails in the sky. Roasted almonds uncovering some damp, rawer peat. Barley, red chilli, burnt cobs and fizzling cream soda and sparkling water to finish. Let it breathe, it is very complex and ever-changing.

Beautiful charred oak touch down on the palate. Stewed tropical fruits with a slight acidic tone – wood varnish and cranberries. Followed by subtle notes of ruby grapes and vines, chocolate strawberries and blackcurrants, a swift trip to sherry-land. Southern rind, smoked bonito and damp peat moving on towards molten liquorice. Icy peppermint and chilli flakes keeping the spirit razor sharp, a good layer of vanilla cream in the middle, assorted chocolate and roasted nuts. Cherries, malt and coal fire smoke at the back.

Lite version assorted red fruits, torched liquorice sticks and peat smoke. Tropical fruits boiling softly.

Six years ago, I got to try this Port Ellen and I thought, wow, this is what Islay whiskies are really about. It is smoky and fruity, elegant but vibrant, complex, delicious but most importantly, complete. Six years later, the feeling remains very much the same. I have no intention to hype Port Ellen, given how crazy the market it is already and I have tried some bang average ones as well. But for this bottling, it is not only PE tends to age very well, but together with incredible vatting skills, it is pretty close to perfection.

☆☆☆ [Most Recommended]

[56.5%| 1978 Distilled| 2014 Bottled| 2964 Bottles| Limited Release| Bottle Number: 1121| Natural Cask Strength| Vatted| ***]