Monday, March 18, 2013
A Tale of Two Port Ellens
Unsurprisingly, whisky from the closed Islay distillery Port Ellen is getting rarer and much more expensive. I recently blind tasted two recently released Port Ellens: the most recent official Diageo release (12th Edition) and K&L's single barrel Port Ellen from their exclusive bottling program (Sovereign label).
Port Ellen 12th Release, 32 yo, distilled 1979, 52.5% abv ($950-$1,000)
The nose on this one has peat with wild flower/honey notes. The palate kick off sweet with those same floral and honey notes then a big hit of earthy peat and sea water. The finish is slightly bitter, peppery and peaty.
Port Ellen 1982, 30 yo, distilled 1982, bottled by Sovereign, K&L Exclusive, 51.9% abv ($600)
This has a great nose with sweet white wine, malt and peat. The palate is sweet and malty with peat coming in mid-palate and hanging on for the finish. This is a flavor profile I really like done really well.
These are two quite different Port Ellens. The Diageo release is bolder with stronger peat notes and sweeter honey notes. The Sovereign is more subtle with its malt and wine notes. They are different but of comparable quality. Both are very good, but I slightly favor the more subtle notes of Sovereign over the bolder official release. Happily, the Sovereign is a solid $300 to $400 cheaper, so if you're in the market for these, I'd say that makes it a clear choice.
Tim over at Scotch & Ice Cream did the same blind tasting but preferred the Diageo release, so check it out, and also see the LA Whiskey Society reviews of the Port Ellen 12th Release and the K&L Sovereign 1982 Port Ellen.