There’s rare limited edition single malt whisky and then there is Port Ellen. Since this distillery was mothballed in 1983, collectors and aficionados have been clamoring over every bottle made available and this release is no exception. Originally released in 2015, the 15th was matured in refill European Oak Sherry butts, is fuller-bodied than many of its predecessors. Creamy, with a hint of smoke in the aroma, it shows complex notes of figs and menthol. It gets bigger and bolder with each sip, coconut, scorched peppermint, and notes of toffee, dates and raisins are all well integrated. A sophisticated, smoky dram with a balanced sweet tone. Stunning. With an original retail price of $4,000/btl, this may still be pricey, but it’s a heck of a deal!
Port Ellen has had a unique history. Starting around 1825 in the Scottish region of Islay, the distillery-side of the business has been closed and reopened several times over the last 200 years. They began producing malt in 1974 and supplied it to Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Port Ellen. Their malts are in such demand that today they supply to the majority of Islay's distilleries. The forward thinking operation was the first to employ the "spirits safe" in distillation and was amongst the first distilleries to begin trading with North America around the 1850s. Port Ellen was closed in the 1980s but their malt lives on and those special last few bottlings are the cat's meow.