Port Ellen 23yo 1983/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Refill Butt, DL REF 2790, 716 bottles)

Instead of expanding into unchartered territory, let’s do something oppositional and do yet another Port Ellen, and another bottle by Douglas Laing. This time from the old series in the normal scotch whisky bottle and not from the new tall bottle. People tend to think this older look contains better whisky. Let’s see if that’s true. By the way ,I read somewhere that in the few months Port Ellen operated during 1983, there weren’t a lot of good casks around, and they filled almost anything they could get their hands on. This Port Ellen looks quite light in color. Is this from a tired butt or a normal refill Fino butt?

Color: Light gold, almost white wine.

Nose: This leaps out of the glass and can be smelled from a mile away. That’s good! Fruity, musty, animalesk and malty. Salty sea spray, fresh air. Apples with elegant peat and cardboard. Nice distant spice and no wood (tired cask?). Milk chocolate. Yes, this has the kind of orange air tube rubber I like so much in Port Ellen. Actually quite good, I like this nose very much. Does this show how the Port Ellen-spirit actually was? (because of the tired cask)

Taste: Peat and rhubarb. Sweet, big, leafy and chewy. Black tea with clean refined sugar. No rubber here and it’s no monster either. The peat is very mild here and the finish is quite simple. Still it seems to be very balanced, just not very complex. It has the dryness and a bit of the spiciness of the oak, but not the bitterness, and that’s a big plus (not a Chevrolet). It has citrus with cardboard in the finish. If tasted blind, I would have thought it to be some odd ten years younger.

It’s an end of an era, even if it was a tired cask, this is still very typical and good. Really a shame this got closed. In a way it resembles Talisker in it always being decent. This may be no high flyer, but is has a lot of fine moments to give. No I’m not sentimental, this is good in itself. A very nice Islay Whisky. As I’m sipping the last few drops: “Here’s looking at you kid…”

Points: 88

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