Review: Port Ellen 37 Year Old 1979 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (2017 Special Release) / by Jason Hambrey

Thanks to Diageo for the picture.

Thanks to Diageo for the picture.

Refill American Oak hogsheads and butts; 37 Years
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Port Ellen (Port Ellen, Scotland)

Port Ellen, here we have another mothballed distillery soon to be resurrected. This special release was composed of a vatting of 8 casks, resulting in 2,988 bottles. Let's see what the old Islay will reveal...

Review (2018)

  • Batch: 2017 Special Releases, 1979

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Gorgeous colour in the glass. But you forget about the colour once you get to the nose – wow! Blueberries, smoke, mixed herbs, moss, straw, dried fish, rubber, and lots of sea minerality. There’s more – grapefruit, sesame, virgin olive oil, cacao nibs, leather...more? might as well - Wet heather (plants, not flowers), blueberry bushes, vanilla, alphonso mango, black pepper, oak, brown rice, dry bacon, rockpools, apricots, light butterscotch, guanabana, himalayan pink salt...

The palate is smoky, rubbery, and yet still sweet with a load of vegetal peat szechuan pepper, and thyme – lots of thyme. Lavender, candle wax, brown sugar, chutney – rubbery on the end. Perfectly balanced between the load of flavors present, the sweet vanilla, and the peat. Creamy, tropical fruit character is still here, too.  Quite remarkable. Brightens on the finish with pickled lemons, heater, clove, oak, szechuan peppers, crispy bacon, malty beer, black olives, and a good dose of smoke. And a bit more thyme...

One of the best whiskies which I’ve ever tasted.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Low. You don’t buy a $4000 whisky for value.