St. Magdalene 19yo 1979/1998 (63.8%, OB, Rare Malts Selection)

As mentioned before St. Magdalene is my favorite Lowland distillery. Compared to the others it seems St. Magdalene always was willing to show some muscle ánd being faithful to the Lowland style. I like lowlanders with a big body. A few days ago I reviewed a Douglas Laing Platinum Linlithgow from 1970, but for ages now this 19yo Rare Malts edition has been my favorite. I know this is only one style of St. Magdalene because there are also some really great St. Magdalenes from the 60’s bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. Those bottles look completely different (dark) and are bottled at 40% ABV, and still can be fabulous. As some of you might know I’m a member of “Het Genietschap” and luckily there’s also a whisky madman there (come to think of it, they all are whisky madmen and women over there), who has the tendency bringing those 60’s St. Magdalenes quite often. André thanks! I hope he lets me take a little sample home someday, so I can review it here…

Color: Gold

Nose: Sweet and full with hints of smoke and very nice wood. Caramel with a some cream and vanilla. Flowery quality, not so much grassy. Yellow fruit. Powder, slightly toasty and spicy again. Bonfire on a damp evening, after a drizzle. And after a while, a second wind. The is another explosion of aroma’s. This time more like sweet lemongrass vanilla yoghurt. The wood turns from spicy to sour. It’s a different ballgame now. More green components now. Plants after watering. Dry summer wind, laden with pollen. Vanilla Ice cream, clay. More smoke…It just goes on and on. One of the best lowlanders I know.

Taste: Sweet and here it is grassy, well more like hay. Big fruity body. Yeah this is my baby! it has some oak, but that’s far away and complements, transports the big bold body. Yellow fruit, hints of peach and a bit more than just a hint of pineapple. Like with the nose, this grows to. The body becomes even more big, with hints of rubber even, can you imagine that, in a Lowlander? The wood taste that emerges is just fabulous. Perfect sweetness that is kept on a leash by a new acidity. Fruity acidity, lime maybe? Not only the acidity, more and more a nice component from the wood makes this a three unity. Also, and this comes very late into the fold: a nutty component. Almonds and chestnuts. This whisky will never end…

I’ve had this lots of times and the fact everything happens in beautiful layers is what makes this whisky unique. Give it lots of time to let it all happen. Use a big copita they use for brandy or cognac. Forget about the strength and forget about water for the first hour you have this in the glass. Give it time, waltz it around in your glass, play with it, sniff it in tiers. Give it a chance and you’ll be rewarded. What a whisky, what an unusual great balance. WOW!

You know about those deserted islands questions? Well, I bring this and a Brora 1972 (and a glass), and worry about the rest later.

Points: 96

Port Ellen 26yo 1979/2005 (56.9%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Sherry Butt #2015, 497 bottles)

Again rummaging through my box with trophies collected on my travels, I found another Port Ellen. I like Port Ellen, so please forgive me, for yet another review. Port Ellen is the closed distillery from the immensely popular island of Islay, known for its peated whiskies. Always around in abundance, prices were ‘moderate’ for a closed distillery from Islay. Today stocks are depleting, and prices tend to rise sky-high, and it won’t be long untill there’s nothing left. Even if casks still lie around, Port Ellen isn’t getting better by ageing even longer. Maybe casks will be transferred into stainless steel holding tanks to stop ageing and fetching a lot of money when bottled is a few years’ time. Who knows. Since 2001 Diageo releases Port Ellen annually in their special release series. The first release fetching at least a 1000 Euro’s at auctions…

Port Ellen was founded in 1825, and was sadly closed like many others in 1983. Although the distillery is dismantled, the site is still there. Today it’s home to Port Ellen Maltings. Where barley is malted and all the other distilleries of the island are customers…

Color: Gold (with black cask sediments, floating around).

Nose: Thick and elegant or is it? Dry Fino Sherry and crushed beetle. Peat and kumquats. It smells like a bush, very vegetal. Black tea and flowery perfume. The citrussy wood is great in this one. When left to breathe for a while it’s wonderful altogether, and a mixture of hot tea, with dry black tea leaves comes even more to the fore. Stunning!

Taste: Thick, spicy, sweaty and sweet. Black and white powder. Very balanced. Alas no Port Ellen rubber. Again Fino Sherry. Bold, round body with distant peat and milk chocolate. Clean at first, and dry,with a very nice gritty and dirty bonfire finish that tends to be sweet and sour (green apples), but not bitter. Every sip is like a chameleon, different every time.

Ahhh, the Raw Cask series, a series where filtration got a new meaning. This is a series where the whisky is certainly not chill-filtered. It is probably filtered through a chicken wire fence. Some people even suggest, the stuff floating in these whiskies have sediment thrown in from anywhere and is not even from the original cask. Well I’d like to believe… It looks original and rustic and I don’t have a clue what it does for the taste. If you drink it all, you can imagine what it does for the mouthfeel, well not much really, the flakes just tend to cling to your palate and tickle. This is a very good Port Ellen and it deserves a well-earned…

Points: 91