Port Ellen 1978 Prima & Ultima Collection 43 Year Old
This vanishingly rare example of an exceptional Port Ellen, richly expressive after forty-three years, comes from the last four precious American Oak Hogsheads from 1978. Created by and tended to by Iain MacArthur, who filled the last cask at Port Ellen in 1983, this rare malt established the character of the distillery celebrated by connoisseurs to this day.
Appearance: Deep gold, rich amber. Fine, light beading, Good viscous legs.
Body: Medium to full.
Nose: Mellow, reserved and lightly drying, with faint prickle, The top notes are of ash, suggesting an empty grate with wood ash, and maritime, with hints of rock salt and dry seaweed, beneath which another smoky note suggests a faded coal sack. It becomes sweeter in the development, with hints of buttery fudge. All these aromas are discreet and fragile. A drop of water brings up more classic coal smoke.
Palate: Smoothly oily and mouth-filling in texture, with the classic Port Ellen balance of sweetness, saltiness and smoke richly expressed in a surprisingly sweet taste to start, which becomes salty in mid-palate, finishing with light spice and billows of fragrant smoke. Adding a drop of water favours the sweetness, while the spice soon returns.
Finish: Long and peppery-smoky, with an attractively spicy edge and a tongue-tingling aftertaste. With water, the aftertaste takes a cooling slant, with a trace of linseed oil.