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Availability of Port Ellen Whisky?

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Availability of Port Ellen Whisky?

Postby comicmutt » Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:28 am

Hey All-

A friend of ours is going to Scotland in May and has offered to pick up a bottle or two of something I can't get here in the states.

After doing some research, I would love to have him pick up a bottle of Port Ellen (the original distillery bottling).

Image

I'm almost as big a fan of the fonts and labels, as I am of the whisky inside, and the simplicity of the Port Ellen bottle is very alluring. I'm also interested in the history behind this silent distillery and the fact that some of my favorite Islay distilleries use Port Ellen malt.

I've noticed some bottles online, that don't ship to the US, for just under 100 pounds, which is just barely in my price range for a splurge on a special bottle. My question is this: will he be able to find bottles of Port Ellen at finer shops in Scotland? Or should I set my sights on another bottle to treat myself with?
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:42 am

The basic answer is - yes. Most good whisky shops will have Port Ellen on their shelves. The Whisky Shop, Royal Mile Whiskies and Loch Fyne Whiskies all stock Port Ellen, with prices from £80 to £180.

I've not had a bottle for a couple of years now, as it has slipped out of my price range.

Cheers

Paul
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Mar 16, 2006 2:10 am

The thing to remember about PE is that you will be paying a massive premium for (presumed) scarcity and collectibility. Only you can decide if that premium is worth paying. Do a bit of research on the tasting notes (try MaltMadness) to be sure you get a good bottle--quality can be variable. Assuming, of course, you intend to drink it. Generally, it's a peat monster in the vein of its neighbors up the Kildalton coast. Most people who like that kind of stuff think it's great. And then there's Nick.

For a dead and presumably disappearing dram, there seems to be a lot of the stuff around still. My conjecture is that when Diageo closed it, there was a hell of a lot of stock, all intended for the blender, but the blenders stopped buying a whisky they knew they weren't going to be able to get in the future. Diageo has been very shrewdly parceling out the stock in order to attain maximum profit, as is their prerogative. (They are a business, after all.) I suspect that they will be able to do this for some years yet. The limiting factor may be their perception that it isn't worth saving a whole lot of stock for 30yo+ bottlings. On the other hand, older bottlings always command high prices, so just maybe they are still contemplating a fairly long-range plan. We may yet see PE 50 at astronomical prices, whether it is any good or not. All this is mere conjecture on my part, because no one outside Diageo seems to know just how much stock is left, and they don't seem to be talking. The great irony of PE is that the modern distillery was only open for sixteen years, so no one ever knew how good the stuff would be at 20-25 years old. And had they stayed open, likely there would be far less of the stuff around at that age than there is now. What a screwy business.... Do you know how much money John Lennon earned last year?
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Postby Jan » Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:11 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:Do you know how much money John Lennon earned last year?


No... But I'm sure you are about to tell us ? :D :D :D

Cheers
Jan
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:02 am

A lot. I happened to see the figure the other day, but don't recall it offhand. $30 million, maybe? Anyway, the point is that dead distilleries, like dead rock stars, can be very profitable.
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Postby Jan » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:47 am

Yeah, I know - the surest way to succes in rock'n'roll is to die... :shock:

Well, I'm sure Lennon would have made a bundle (and a lot of interesting music) anyway, had that lunatic not killed him.

But you are right of course, drinking whisky from a closed distillery gives the experience something extra.

I can't really make up my mind on Port Ellen: It is hyped to point of nausea - but still; the few Port Ellens I have tasted have ranged on scale between "fairly good" to "Now THIS is why I love whisky" so obviously the hype is somewhat justified...


To answer Comicmutt: Yes, you can certainly still get a Port Ellen below £100, but not one of the annual relases, I think. The 1st release retails above £200 now and releases 2-5 are between £110-£115.

You can find some earlier discussions of port ellen here:
http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopi ... n&start=30

And here some taste notes (+ a good discussion) of different Port Ellens:
http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopi ... port+ellen

Also the FAQ links to some Port Ellen discussions:
http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopi ... 74&start=3

Cheers
Jan
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Postby kallaskander » Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:37 am

Hi there,

probably it would be a good idea to look out for PE bottlings by Douglas Laing The Old Malt Cask series. They are not exactly give aways but they are good and in the lower range of PE prices.

Greetings
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Postby Mr Ellen » Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:11 pm

Try The Whisky Exchange in London, they have the biggest selection of Port Ellens.
They range in price from approx. £70.00 up to £3-400 for the more scarce bottlings.
The Annual releases (with the exception from the 1st release) are still to be found at their initial price at approx. £115.00.
You will find plenty of good choices in the Douglas Laing's OMC Range. Some of these are even better (in my opinion) than the official Diageo releases.
What you will find in other shops are most likely only the Annual Releases and perhaps the newer bottlings from GordonMacPhails. Most shops don't stock any Port Ellen's at all and if they do they only have very few to choose among.
TWE also ships to the US.

Cheers
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Postby bamber » Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:51 pm

I love the idea of Port Ellen better than the taste. I know I'll probably get told of for this, but to me the basic profile is pretty similar to Caol Ila, which is not my favourite of the Islays - behind Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Bowmore.

I've never had a full bottle - tasting other peoples and also I've had a couple of OMC 20cls things. My response has always been: "Nyeh that's pretty good. Glad I tried it, but pass the X" .

Jim Murray rates the 4th release very highly. I'd really like to try it and have nearly bought a bottle.

Get that one.
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Postby Frodo » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:45 pm

At $420 cdn at the LCBO, I'll pass...
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Postby bamber » Thu Mar 16, 2006 4:43 pm

At the end of the day so did I at £105 ....
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Postby Mr Ellen » Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:10 pm

bamber wrote:At the end of the day so did I at £105 ....


I guess it's up to each one to decide whether it's worth the money or not.

What I just can't figure out why Port Ellen 25y. OB at £115.00 should be cheaper than other 25 year old malts.
Compare it with the following:

Balvenie 25 SC OB - £169.00
Bowmore 25y. OB - £120.00
Bunnahabhain 25 OB - £168.00
Highland Park 25 OB - 110.00
Laphroaig 30 OB - 250.00
Macallan Fine Oak 25 OB - 195.00

Above mentioned whiskies are from working distilleries, readily available bottlings and noone has made any complaints whatsoever on the pricing of these.
How come you think Port Ellen is so "overpriced"?? :?

Cheers
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Postby Frodo » Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:37 pm

I agree completely.
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:19 pm

When I started reading the comments this morning it suddenly occured to me that the Port Ellen Annual Releases (in my market) are not that highly priced in comparisson to other 25 year olds. Thus I was happy to see Mr. E's comment on pricing.

The Balvenie 1975 is C$625, I know the Balvenie is a bit older but really. In any case Loch Fyne Whiskies ships to the United States and if you want a bottle of Port Ellen I suggest you buy it sooner than later.
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Postby Jan » Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:39 pm

I have not, so far as I know, said that PE annuals are overpriced.

But I actually think that some of the ones in the example are...

Thankfully other 25 year olds are not as high:

Balblair 26 Year Old £54.95
Glen Albyn 1975 Rare Malts 26 Year Old £67.95
Convalmore 28 Year Old £91.00
Benromach 25 Year Old £51.99
Tomatin 25 Year Old £62.95
Clynelish 1972 Rare Malts £69.95
Glenfarclas 25 Year Old £78.95
Caol Ila 25 Year Old £99.99
Talisker 25 Year Old £105.00


Cheers
Jan
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:48 pm

I have not, so far as I know, said that PE annuals are overpriced.


My point exactly.
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Postby parvus » Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:43 pm

Mr Ellen wrote:
Balvenie 25 SC OB - £169.00
Bowmore 25y. OB - £120.00
Bunnahabhain 25 OB - £168.00
Highland Park 25 OB - 110.00
Laphroaig 30 OB - 250.00
Macallan Fine Oak 25 OB - 195.00

Above mentioned whiskies are from working distilleries, readily available bottlings and noone has made any complaints whatsoever on the pricing of these.
How come you think Port Ellen is so "overpriced"?? :?


Perhaps he simply means that they are overpriced for their quality, rather than perhaps their age?
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Postby comicmutt » Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:34 pm

Thanks for the replies. I'm glad to hear that it's still available, but I'm not sold on PE being the "it" bottle that I have to have. Taste is very important. I can't afford to buy a bottle at that price and not enjoy drinking it.

Truth be told, I grew up in the mid-late 1970s and I would get a kick out of having any bottle distilled from that era.

I like Caol Ila, but it's my least favorite peaty Islay so far. So Bamber's comment comparing the taste to Caol Ila has given me some food for thought. I need to do some research before I pick my "special bottle." And I wouldn't turn down any expert reccomendations. ;)
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Postby bamber » Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:27 pm

Mr Ellen wrote:How come you think Port Ellen is so "overpriced"?? :?
Anders


You're right they're not. However, as I'm going to crack it open within 5 seconds of tearing the package apart, it's all about how good it tastes (to me) and I think there are a lot of cheaper whiskies that I personally would enjoy more.
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Postby Mr Ellen » Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:52 pm

Fair enough, it's just that when we talk about availability, overpriced bottlings or "Limited Editions" here on the forum it seems that Port Ellen is the one to rack down on. :?
Personally, I agree that you could find better choices for less money than a Port Ellen.
I just made the comparing list to show that most quality whiskies in the age of +/- 25 years are priced in the £80-150 range. Just as Jan showed you could find even excellent 25y. whiskies at £70.00 (Clynelish RM 72 for example) :D
With that said, I think the Port Ellen prices are pretty fair.

Taste is something completely different and I am sure that most of us could find better options at £115.00 than a Port Ellen. I must say though that some of the best whiskies I've ever tasted have come from this lost distillery. If you haven't tasted the Douglas Laing OMC of Port Ellen you should do so...some of them are truly amazing.... :D :D :D

Cheers
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Postby comicmutt » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:10 am

Clynelish RM 72 for example


This is the second time that I've read this whisky mentioned in this thread. I LOVE the regular Clynelish 14 sitting on my shelf. Off to the Whisky Exchange online store. :P
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Postby Mr Ellen » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:12 am

They don't have it..try the Royal Mile Whiskies instead. :D :D

Cheers
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Postby comicmutt » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:25 am

They don't have it..try the Royal Mile Whiskies instead.


Found it, price is certainly much better. I also like the presentation of The Rare Malts bottlings. Thanks for the heads up, Anders.
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Postby Jan » Fri Mar 17, 2006 10:25 am

Actually I guess 25 year olds could very well become dearer in the near future. Counting back 25 years, would mean 1980/81, where the industry started one of the cyclic down periods and as a result cut back on production at most distilleries. I guess this would mean that there are just not that much whisky matured 25 years around at this moment in time...

Does anybody know when the turnaround came and when the industry as a whole increased production again ?

Cheers
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Postby Jan » Fri Mar 17, 2006 10:38 am

Mr Ellen wrote:Fair enough, it's just that when we talk about availability, overpriced bottlings or "Limited Editions" here on the forum it seems that Port Ellen is the one to rack down on. :?


Mr. Ellen, You are quite right. I guess I have participated in this, without thinking the matter through.
It seems I have learned something today, thank you for that.

/Jan
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Postby lbacha » Fri Mar 17, 2006 11:21 am

Hello,

I'm new to this forum but I just wanted to add that Binny's in Chicago has a few examples of Port Ellen and a couple are quite affordable.

Old Malt Cask 1982 - 19 yrs - $134.99us
Signatory 1979 - 22 yrs - $129.99us

Iv'e tried a few OMC Port Ellens including their Platinum series and all have been excellent for their price and most signatory products are good as well.

You will also find the shipping to be quite good from Chicago about $11.00us a bottle I beleive.

Len
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Postby lbacha » Fri Mar 17, 2006 11:24 am

By the way you can see Binny's selection online at http://www.binnys.com
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Postby hpulley » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:11 pm

Jan wrote:Actually I guess 25 year olds could very well become dearer in the near future. Counting back 25 years, would mean 1980/81, where the industry started one of the cyclic down periods and as a result cut back on production at most distilleries. I guess this would mean that there are just not that much whisky matured 25 years around at this moment in time...

Does anybody know when the turnaround came and when the industry as a whole increased production again ?

Cheers
Jan


Actually, I think you'll find it's the reverse. Many distilleries closed in 1983 and the decade that followed. Instead of less 25yos you're going to find less YOUNG whiskies from that period. There are no whiskies younger than 23yo available from those closed distilleries unless they re-opened in which case there will be a gap between old and new produce. This has happened at Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Springbank, Benriach, Benromach, Bladnoch and many others that were mothballed or in very limited production for the dark decade or two of malt whisky in the '80s and '90s.

I think stuff started up again from '96-'01. It is sad to think of the distilleries that were closed in the mid nineties, right before the re-surgence. I cry for Port Ellen and Glenugie a bit, the '83 closures but they were the early ones, the quick decisions. The recent demolisions like Rosebank hurt more, I think.

Harry
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Postby Jan » Fri Mar 17, 2006 1:01 pm

Harry, I'm not sure I'm understanding you correctly.

While I follow you on the closed and closed/reopened distilleries, where remaining stock be now will be oldish - would'nt the ones that kept on producing in a limited fashion now have less aged stock, than would be the case if production had been normal in those years?

I mean if a 25yo are to be bottled in say 2008, the youngest whisky in it would have to have been distilled around 1983. And if production were low then = less available stock in 2008...

Could you pretend I'm dumb and explain it again, please?

Cheers
Jan
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Postby hpulley » Fri Mar 17, 2006 1:08 pm

Using 2008 as the example year, you're right that 25yos will become scarce in theory. I say in theory because there is nothing stopping you from labelling a 35yo malt as a 21yo on the bottle. You can't advertise whisky as being older than it is but being younger than it is, that's just fine.

I was more meaning to say that a distillery closed in 1983 can't bottle a 10yo today, or a 12yo. So while 25yos will be scarce, the younger stuff will be even scarcer as it was bottled a while ago.

There are distilleries closed in 1983 which are still releasing OBs today! Yes, you can buy 30yo OBs from such distilleries and will for some time but not 10yos unless they have some old cases around.

Harry
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Postby Jan » Fri Mar 17, 2006 1:42 pm

Ok, thanks :D

You are probably right - the will be less diversity in single malts as the final bottles of the 80ties closings are released (and drunk) in the years to come...

But still - there are lots of things to look forward to from the vibrant SMW industry of today:

Glenmo Ardbegs
Bruichladdichs in a dizzying no of expressions.
Arran coming of age
Killochman releasing it's firstborn
ditto Kilkerran/Glengyle
A new batch of Springbank 21yo released in 2011
The Sour, Sweaty One
Ouzo finished whisky

And so on...

:D :D :lol: :lol:
Jan
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