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The Best Port Ellen...

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The Best Port Ellen...

Postby Ian_Hamilton » Mon Aug 11, 2003 10:09 pm

Hi All
Whats the best Port Ellen you have tasted?
I want to lay down a few good ones for the future.
What a #### up that was closing it down.
I bet you the owners are wishing they could go back to 1982 now!

LONG LIVE PORT ELLEN (STOCKS)!
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Mon Aug 11, 2003 11:55 pm

Hi Ian ,
The two best Port Ellens i have tasted are :-
Sig 1976/21yo cask 4754 (may be a little bit hard to find!).
The Whisky Shop 10th anniversary bottling (1978/24yo), the smokiest PE i've ever had ,a damn fine bottling !
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[This message has been edited by Spirit of Islay (edited 12 August 2003).]
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Aug 12, 2003 12:33 am

I generally find the Gordon & Macpahil offerings to be a mild cousin of the "real" Port Ellen's to say the least. the 1982 G&M was a nice dram but...........
I just bought a 24 year old cask strength bottling and I hear it's amazing but I've not opened it yet. I had an older Signatory which wa wonderful, but anything from Signatory is usually very good. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has had some good offerings.... but they're becoming harder and harder to find. The Old Malt Cask Sherry finish is well worth the price and is still currently available.
Last edited by Lawrence on Thu Dec 16, 2004 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Nic Rhodes » Thu Aug 14, 2003 6:11 pm

Whisky shop one is good, from DL I think.

The signatory stuff is always reliable but there are MANY out there
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Aug 16, 2003 4:17 pm

My best Port Ellens came from Signatory, The Hart Brothers and the Italian bottler 'Gallo'.
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Postby blackkeno » Mon Aug 18, 2003 2:46 am

Although I love Port Ellen, my favorate is not typical. It is the Port Port Ellen ('78 Signatory).
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Mon Aug 18, 2003 7:09 am

The higher ABV in the OMC bottlings are doing it for me... Here a tasting note of one of them:

Distillery: Old Malt Cask Score: 9.6 Perc: 50
Expression: Port Ellen 1979 sept, 21 year Date: 1 dec 2002 Occasion:
Bought At: Santhpoort Price: 110EURO Color: 24
Nose: Seaweed, salt, hint of smoke.
Palate: Oily
Finish: Sweet, turns into a fishy/salty taste later on.
Comments: One to sit down for. Be carefull with water.

This has to be my personal PE favourite Image
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Postby Stephane Grialet » Wed Aug 27, 2003 12:27 pm

Has anyone tasted the 1979 23 y.o. 43° from Signatory Vintage ?

I've just bought the last bottle my favorite whisky shop had for 106 euros and i'm wondering if it's worth and when i will open it...

Stephane
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Wed Aug 27, 2003 2:32 pm

It is a very nice expression of Port Ellen, although I prefer my PE's to have a bit more power from higher ABV's.

Here are two tasting notes from two 1979 expressions of Port Ellen. Unfortunally just tasting notes from me, noone else send in any '79 PE tasting notes yet.
http://www.peatfreak.com/Cnt.php?search=Port+Ellen+1979
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Postby hpulley » Wed Aug 27, 2003 4:28 pm

Thanks for those notes. I really should contribute some to your site and grab the program.

I've been thinking about that '79 Sig PE and if it ever arrives here it looks like I should consider picking up a bottle.

Harry
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Wed Aug 27, 2003 5:35 pm

Port Ellen stands out cuase it has such a specific taste you'll hardly find in any other malt. Somewhat like Laphroaig. You either love it, or hate it.

Personally I adore a good PE from time to time. Although personally I also think it hasnt got a lot of depth, just what I think of the 10 yr Laphroaig too. The OMC at 50% is a lot better as the 43% already though Image

Harry: you can submit notes already using the submit form on the website Image http://www.peatfreak.com/Cntsubmit.php is the address for that.

Early next week I will be releasing a new version with which you can submit a tasting note by simply clicking a button. It will send the currently selected tasting note then, so you might want to wait till that release if your planning to give the program a try anyway Image
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Postby Lawrence » Thu Dec 16, 2004 4:42 pm

Does anybody have any new Port Ellen's to add to the list?

I recently tried the OB Port Ellen 3rd Annual Release 24 year old 57.3% (9000 bottles released in 2003) and it is very good, I would rate it as one of the best Port Ellen's that I've ever had.

I bought 3 bottles for the future. :D
Last edited by Lawrence on Fri Dec 24, 2004 6:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Tom » Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:01 pm

deffinatly, i tried some signatory's PE's and they were good,also had the Provenance but the best i had was the Blackadder Raw Cask Port ellen 1982, its a 21Y old at 63,7% AbV, i rated it 94 wich is very very high.
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Postby hpulley » Fri Dec 17, 2004 2:57 pm

On the advice of Lawrence, Alan and tasting notes here at Whisky Magazine I decided to pick up a bottle of the 3rd annual release. Wonderful stuff! See my notes in "What did you drink last night?" If it weren't so expensive I'd buy some backup bottles but it is dearly expensive. I am very glad to have one bottle to enjoy.

It is the only PE I've had so I can say it is the best bottle ;)

Harry
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Postby hpulley » Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:15 pm

Reading the final chapter of _Peat_Smoke_and_Spirit_ I think I have a better feel for Grant Carmichael's choice. They had three distilleries: Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Port Ellen. PE was the youngest and had just been restarted in 1967 while the other two were older and had been running more continuously. The oldest spirit they had from that run of PE was 16yo at the time. They had too much production so something had to close. The decision to mothball it in 1983 is no longer a mystery to me. It sounds quite reasonable in this frame of mind.

What REMAINS a mystery is why it the stillhouse was demolished only recently!!! They took the equipment (probably beyond a state of repair) out in the late nineties and then demolished the building in 2003 (the maltings of course survive and work for the rest of Islay, and the warehouses are also used). Why did they get rid of it at a time when Bruichladdich and Ardbeg were being rejuvenated? That I can't explain and can't excuse. When I read on the label how Diageo is sad that the distillery is closed I have to ask myself, if you're so sad why didn't you resurrect it in the late nineties? Why mothball it for so long so it could be restarted and then just when the single malt industry was picking up again, go ahead and demolish the stillhouse?!?

Even if the old stills had been rotten they could have used them to get the dimensions and so on -- we know equipment is replaced so in reality a 1965 distillation isn't the same as a 2000 distillation; new stills are installed sometimes, it is necessary so new stills wouldn't kill the idea of it still being PE. If the plans for equipment and recipes still exist then perhaps a resurrection, rather than a reopening, is still possible. I doubt they'd do it as they have so many distilleries but one can dream...

Harry
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Postby Nikwik » Sat Dec 18, 2004 3:08 pm

From what I heard from John Thomson (The manager of the PE Maltings) not only the equipment but even the buildings built in the sixties (Which must include the still house) was beyond state of repair. The old victorian buildings were intact (Which tells us how the building industry has detoriated in modern times...) but the new buildings were becoming a hazard for kids playing etc. As they had removed the stills etc there was no meaning in keeping the buildings as a renovation would probably cost more than building a new still house etc.
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Postby Stephen » Sat Dec 18, 2004 3:44 pm

Port Ellen 23yo 1978/2001 (62.2%, McGibbons Provenance for John Milroy)

Port Ellen 21yo 1982/2004, misprint to be 1983 (62.7%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Cask#45334, 563b. Sherry Butt)
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Postby Rudy » Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:59 pm

Hi Ian,

unfortunately, the best PE I recall the is one of which I do not know anything else but 'this is a 13 yo Port Ellen', when offered a nip from a glass. Probably not available any longer, anywhere.
It was explosive and intense as a Talisker can be, but then, well, different.

The best I know of worth looking for is the 22yo Rare Malt, at 60,50%.

Happy hunting,

Rudy.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 27, 2004 4:34 am

In the Port Charlotte Hotel, just down the road from Bruichladdich, you order your dram by number off the menu. All the Bruichladdichs are consecutive numbers, as are all the Bowmores, etc. My eagle eye spotted a misplaced and misnumbered Port Ellen (I don't recall what bottling) in the middle of the Caol Ilas, and priced on the menu like a Caol Ila--I think around £5 or 6, rather than the £10-12 of most of the Port Ellens. I gave the bartender the number. He took the bottle down and looked at it for a long time. Finally, he looked at me with a suspicious look on his face. I just arched my eyebrow. He burst out laughing, poured me a double (at least), and said, "That's on the house." And that was the best-tasting Port Ellen I ever had.

I've quite enjoyed the Rare Malts bottlings I've had. There sure is a lot of the stuff around for a defunct distillery, isn't there? My theory is that they were cranking the stuff out for blends, but as soon as the place closed, the blenders stopped buying, leaving vast stocks behind. Stock up, lads, and get some Brora, too, while you're at it.

Has anyone tried the Straight From The Cask Burgundy Finish bottling, in the little blue crate? I brought one back this year and I'm afraid of it.
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:32 pm

I always understood the stills were removed pretty early. Aside of that, the people making the whisky at PE were unavailable too.

I guess those two are vital reviving a distillery.

Harry: in your post you speak of the demolishing of the stillhouse, are you sure the stills were still present in there too?
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Postby hpulley » Tue Dec 28, 2004 4:58 pm

If my information is correct, the stills were only removed in the '90s but perhaps the rest of the equipment had been removed earlier. In 2003 the stillhouse was demolished.

Most of the people who worked there remained to work on the Kiln or went to work for Lagavulin and Caol Ila. I suspect that the recipes and equipment characteristics still exist somewhere and even if they don't, its not like distilleries don't change their still designs (look at Bowmore and Laphroaig). If it were resurrected it wouldn't be the Port Ellen of old but one can say the same of many other resurrected distilleries where new people and often new equipment are needed to get it going (with new people they must experiment to find the 'right' fermenting and distilling factors). Diageo doesn't really need more Islay output TODAY for either singles or blends so I don't see them opening it again. 10-15 years ago they could have used more output at Lagavulin but their crystal ball said ramp down, not ramp up.

Harry
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Tue Dec 28, 2004 5:18 pm

Yes indeed... You can resurrect it as many distilleries have been, but if the people wont come back, and the stills are different...

I guess you and me, and many other PE lovers wont accept anything other then the PE notes we know and love it for. I dunno if Diageo would even risk getting it wrong.
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Postby Admiral » Wed Dec 29, 2004 2:02 am

No one seems to be complaining about the flavours of Longrow or Hazelburn not matching the original distillations!! :wink: :D

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Postby Lawrence » Wed Dec 29, 2004 2:08 am

Admiral, yes, you're correct, nobody is complaining and I think the Islay lovers would be thrilled if they re opened Port Ellen. After all very few distillers maintain a level flavour profile year after year. the exception is Ardbeg which you mentioned on an earlier post.

I know I'd be thrilled.
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Postby hpulley » Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:56 am

Come on, Diageo, you can do it; I know you can. I double dog dare you to reopen Port Ellen :D

Harry
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Wed Dec 29, 2004 8:21 am

I think the difference is where we still have expressions on our shelve and we know how the expression tastes like, and in fact, love the distillery for its very specific profile, and the distilleries who have been closed for so long, as we actually dont know the exact profile of the expression at all.

That's what I meant if when the distillery gets resurrected, we accept nothing but the PE we know and love.

But sure, I love to see any distillery to get back on its feet.
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Postby Admiral » Wed Dec 29, 2004 9:22 am

It's wishful thinking I reckon, Harry.

Diageo are all too aware that Islay is flavour of the month, and that's precisely why Caol Ila has suddenly been thrust into the limelight. They're prepared to market two Islays, and even bring out some alternative expressions of Lagavulin, but I can't see them investing in (virtually) an entirely new distillery. Even if you triple dog dared them! :)

Cheers,
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Postby hpulley » Wed Dec 29, 2004 2:17 pm

The Very Young Ardbeg has been a hit with many people (haven't had it here unfortunately) so that bodes well as you can also get old expressions of Ardbeg. The Laddie started later so they have only officially released an old/new vatting but since they've sold casks to many private individuals, there are already some tastings out there and even a bottled cask of 3yo Port Charlotte! So even with new owners and some new equipment it seems it is possible to resurrect. Will they ever be the same as the '60s and '70s distillations? Probably not but it seems that doesn't stop people from enjoying it.

Right now, Lagavulin is distilling day and night all week long. Caol Ila's profile is being raised because unless they can get rid of the last little vestiges of blending contracts for Lagavulin there is no way, save adding new stills, to increase the flow out of Lagavulin. Caol Ila, OTOH, has room to grow even though most of it goes to blends (much of it unpeated). So you're right, Diageo doesn't need Port Ellen. To throw money at it now would seem silly and ironically, since the maltings are running there is no way the distillery could be sold to a private party. Drink 'em while you got 'em, folks... I'd quadruple quail dare them if it would help but I don't think it will.

Harry
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Postby Drrich1965 » Tue Sep 05, 2006 1:59 am

Interested in what your current favorite Port Ellen's are. I have only tried 4, so am in no way an expert.

92 Port Ellen 13yo 1982 (43%, Hart Brothers)
89 Port Ellen 19yo 1982/2001 (62.5%, McGibbons Provenance)
81 Port Ellen 15yo 1977 (40%, G & M, screw top)
95 Port Ellen 16yo Dist. 1980, Cask 89/5891/20 (59.3%,Signatory)

It is interesting how disparate views are of Port Ellens. To some, they are very complex, to others, they are not. A function of what exprssions we have tasted?

I don't know, but the 13 year old Hart brothers was very complex, and the G and M was not. In my tasting notes, I wrote " Very dark amber color, which is curious as it says on the bottle that it was matured in oak, which usually means not sherry. Is this artificially colored? Perhaps some sherry on the nose. Let us see. No, very closed, not much sherry sweetness here. A tad spirity. Let's taste. A blast of pepper. And then, more pepper. After about ten minutes a touch of sweetness arrives. Not a very complex malt, but an enjoyable older expression distilled in the 70s"

About the Hart brothers I wrote "Just love this one. A classic young Islay, pepper and peat on the nose and mouth. A tad spirity at first nose, but than it gives way to this wonderfully clean white pepper taste, and this pervasive sweetness that overlays everything. This is just marvelous stuff. Not a very good description, but this is the kind of malt that I could drink every day. It is both easy and complex (to me, Jill found it off putting), I can imagine drinking this in the high summer heat (105 today in Omaha, late July 2006), or on a cold night, when you need something a bit more intense. I just have to get a bottle or two of this one for down the road."

Not sure if these are helpful to this conversation, but I wanted to reopen it.
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Postby Wave » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:31 pm

Port Ellen is my 1st Islay love and to this day it still holds a deep fascination for me. I got to visit the Port Ellen malting floors during the '04 Feis Ila which was a great thrill with me being a PE fanatic! I've been drinking Port Ellens for some 20 odd years and some of the more notable ones have been a 16yr old 1980 Signatory Cask Strength, a 22yr old 1976 Scott's Selection, and the 22yr old 1979 1st Release.



Cheers!
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Postby Drrich1965 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:36 pm

Wave wrote:Port Ellen is my 1st Islay love and to this day it still holds a deep fascination for me. I got to visit the Port Ellen malting floors during the '04 Feis Ila which was a great thrill with me being a PE fanatic! I've been drinking Port Ellens for some 20 odd years and some of the more notable ones have been a 16yr old 1980 Signatory Cask Strength, a 22yr old 1976 Scott's Selection, and the 22yr old 1979 1st Release.



Cheers!


I would love to get ahold of the 1980 16 yo that I tried...to date, no dice...
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Postby micheluzzo » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:56 pm

my favourite Port Ellen are
James McArthur, 12years, 62,7%
Samaroli 1975, 23years, 45%
Scottish Wildlife 'Otter'
and some of the cask strength bottlings from G&M and the so called Kirsch-bottlings, also in cask strength
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