The second release of the Port Ellen Untold Stories Series is the Port Ellen 40 Year Old that’s put together from 9 rogue casks set aside back in 1979.
In 1979, whisky makers at the now-closed Port Ellen whisky distillery on Islay discovered a number of casks with flavour profiles that strayed from the usual Port Ellen character. Normally such spirit from such casks would be sold or traded off to be used for blending. But even then these “rogue casks” were deemed unsuitable for the task at that time; they were shunted aside for further maturation or blending in the future.
But as whisky historians know, Port Ellen would be shut down by owners Diageo in 1983, just four years later. Closed cult distillery Port Ellen has been mothballed for many years in the past century too – from 1930 to 1966 – which means any remaining stock of Port Ellen today would most likely have been distilled between 1967 to 1983. That stock – including those rogue casks – would go towards making some of the rarest (and priciest) whiskies in the world.
Which brings us back to the Port Ellen 40 Year Old. This second release in the “Port Ellen Untold Stories” series, which comes just a year after the initial Port Ellen Untold Stories: The Spirit Safe release – shines the spotlight on those rogue casks that lain nearly forgotten for so many years. Diageo master blender Dr. Craig Wilson scoured through what remained of that original rogue 1979 batch, identifying nine that had their own defining quirks but yet were still identifiably Port Ellen.
The spirit from those four American oak hogsheads and five European oak butts were then vatted together to create this blindingly rare, limited-edition Port Ellen single malt expression. There was, for example, the American oak hogshead Cask 1469, which lent its green, oily, cinnamon and herbal notes to the mix, as well as the European oak sherry butt Cask 4913 that provided notes of leather and tropical fruit.
The Port Ellen 40 Year Old, which clocks in 50.9% ABV, is at once highly identifiable as Port Ellen, but also something remarkably different. Port Ellen’s signature rich sweetness on the nose comes through strongly, as is with the familiar soft and delicate bonfire peat smoke that sneaks through near the finish. Where it differs is the unusual layer of ripe tropical fruit – especially of green mango, green papaya, and sweet peach – as well as a touch of aged leather and aromatic wood spice that harkens to the much beloved whiskies of old.
Like the first release in the The Port Ellen Untold Stories, the Port Ellen 40 Year Old is a liquid sip of history. It’s definitely a taste of old Port Ellen before the new Port Ellen distillery comes online and starts production in 2021.
Only 1,380 bottles of the Port Ellen Untold Stories: The Port Ellen 40-Year-Old has been made available to the public. It is available in Singapore at the recommended retail selling price of S$10,300 through Diageo Rare and Exceptional Singapore’s private client team. Further queries can be directed via email to PrivateClientSG@Diageo.com.