New Whisky Batch 6: Port Ellen 40 year old ‘9 Rogue casks’
It’s unusual to only have a single whisky in this section, but there’s a story behind this one which you can read here.
Also, as this is my site I can do what I want.
Name: Port Ellen ‘9 Rogue casks’ 40 years old, 50.9%
Nose: This smells mature! It has Port Ellen’s oiliness (extra virgin olive oil this time) but there’s also canned/preserved peach, apricot and a sprinkling of dried mint and sel gris. Smoke? Not really, just a puff or two. It is rather refined, almost delicate in fact, with great balance.
As the whisky settles down, so there’s the sensation of a warming breeze bearing with it frangipani blossom and tropical fruit, then in true Port Ellen the wind changes and comes from a cold sea – drying seashells, brine.
Leave the glass alone for a period (and drip in a little water if you feel like it) and the rancio notes build, along with coal tar soap, toffee and herbal elements.
Palate: There’s a moment of silence when it hits the tongue, before a sudden almost explosive spray of oils that have an almost fatty quality adding weight to the overall feel. All of that sits beside the orchid notes of Oolong tea, those overripe fruits, clam flesh and salinity.
As it develops so a ferny/herbal /pine needle element develops along with a gentian-like dryness and increasing minerality. That is balanced by rancio which, in tandem with the oiliness (now almost lanolin like), moves things in a savoury direction.
Now, with more time (and maybe water) there are more oxidised fruits, but the mineral elements start to build – the smoke remaining as merely a light accent, while the green element now manifests itself as artichoke and asparagus.
Finish: Very long. Initially perfumed, lightly smoky with some salted liquorice, pipe tar and hazelnut syrup.
Conclusion: It’s a whisky that has seen life, but there’s been sufficient (and relaxed) wood to add an extra layers to the overall balance and complexity. That said, it’s still Port Ellen. There’s a pivot point in the middle of the tongue when, just as things are proceeding as per usual for a whisky of this type, the oils come back adding a savoury quality, a touch of decay, a hint of the sour. It’s huge and one sip can satisfy – which is just as well at £6,500…