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In March, Diageo announced that they would release a Port Ellen 39 Year Old single malt from original, finite stocks in early April, and GreatDrams had the opportunity to try it, and man am I glad we did.

This Port Ellen 39 Year Old, of the “Untold Stories Series”, is, in their words, “an exploration into the innovative and trailblazing background of this iconic Islay distillery”. 

Port Ellen 39 Year Old: Untold Stories The Spirit Safe (50.9% ABV) is one of the oldest releases from the distillery. Only 1,500 bottles will be available from selected luxury retailers globally with an RRSP of £4,500.

This complex Single Malt Scotch Whisky has been married from a selection of ex US-Bourbon and ex European Sherry refill casks.

GreatDrams Tasting Notes of the Port Ellen 39 Year Old

Smoky, rubbery notes of peat are delicately intertwined with softer, fleshy fruit that work in perfect harmony to draw you in and make you salivate beyond control. This is a dram that beckons you in, enticing you into its ancient mystique. The smoke and marzipan note there is really strong, more than expected for a peated whisky of this age.

The Port Ellen 39 Year Old palate is incredible; the high ABV does not show any ferocity, but the sweet, smoky, fruity notes Port Ellen is known for come through incredibly well, the peat muted on the sip and savour phase, but it grows to give you a peaty whollop as you’re about to swallow and stays with you for ages.

I’ve tried, and have owned, a number of Port Ellen bottlings over the years and can safely say this is one of the – if not the – greatest I have ever tried. Beautifully well balanced, how the sweetness intertwined with the peat notes was incredible. Some serious whisky heritage and flavour packed into this Port Ellen 39 Year Old.

The Port Ellen distillery

Port Ellen distillery was closed over thirty years ago in 1983, set to remain silent for all time. It is now to be reopened in 2021, and while the world waits for it to start production again, only a very finite amount of its original stock remains.

The famous Islay distillery will join the eight other distilleries already on the island. Islay is known for its heavily peated malts.

Independent bottlings of the legendary whisky are currently available from many different outlets. These usually go for a high price. With the new distillery opening, only time will tell if these maintain their price.

What do you think of the prospect of Port Ellen opening again? Tell us in the comments!

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