It’s rare to be able to review a Port Ellen these days, unless I dive into my stash of whisky samples. That’s exactly what I did a little while back. While I try not to review too many older or unavailable releases, I’ll gladly make an exception for this Port Ellen 1982 26 Years from Old Bothwell, bottled some 13 years ago.
Old Bothwell is not a particular prolific bottler, but they rose to some prominence in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Their fame is almost solely based on the nearly 40 (!) casks of Port Ellen they bottled. I feel like there’s a story here. How did this small independent label owned by a family-operated wine and spirits supplier get its hands on that many quality casks of Port Ellen? And it’s not like they bottled much else – basically less than a dozen other single casks from distilleries such as Glen Garioch, Ben Nevis, Caol Ila and Tormore.
Whatever the case, to Port Ellen enthusiasts they were a godsend. Most of the Old Bothwell releases were affordable, even to the standards of those days. They were all released in the years before my whisky awakening, but because they were so well-priced (and due to the generosity of fellow whisky enthusiasts), I was able to amass quite a few samples of these Port Ellen. I’ve only ever reviewed one on here. It was great. Today’s review is of my final sample.
Port Ellen 1982 26 Years (55.7%, Old Bothwell, C#2473)
Nose: Gentle notes of charred meat, brine and oysters, but also soft forest fruits, prunes, grilled pineapple and a tinge of bubble gum. It’s all very civilised and even a tad sweet because of some pronounced toffee notes. Nice minerality too. Taste: Sweet, brown sugar with some gentle mocha notes, smouldering tarmac and decent salinity. Whiffs of honey, a large pinch of pepper and a big hit of (slightly medicinal) peat. Also leather and tobacco with some sweet treacle. Finish: Spicy, salty and some lemon pith, as well as a whiff of iodine.
Positively delicious, this Port Ellen 1982 26 Years from Old Bothwell strikes a balance between fruity sweetness and briny peat. It's gentle and patient yet brute and full of characterful.