‘International Port Ellen Day’ 2013 (#iPed2013), organised by the one and only Jon Beach, took place on the Friday during Fèis Ìle this year.
First though, we paid a visit to Bunnahabhain and even solved the mystery of what really happened to the nearby Wyre Majestic, now shipwrecked off the coast...
Bunnahabhain Toiteach & Raspberry Slush(i)es
The slushes (not slushies?) available at the distillery day were pretty awesome but we couldn’t help adding a touch more single malt whisky in the form of That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s own Bunnahabhain.
Additional layer of delicious whisky.
More whisky made it good.
Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2013 – Sgeul Na Mara – 60.1% abv
Tasting note for Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2013 – Sgeul Na Mara
Nose: Christmas cake, marzipan, chocolate orange. Touch of sea air.
Palate: Mouth coating with spicy, sherried pecan, salted peanuts.
Finish: Lingering, rich saltiness.
Overall: A lovely sherried whisky bottled at a high abv. Only 606 bottles are available and this was one of Michael’s favourites from the festival.
“Sgeul Na Mara” is Gaelic for ‘Tales of the Sea’ and with the shipwreck of the Wyre Majestic still situated on the nearby rocks at Rhubha a’ Mhill we’ve been looking into the plight of this infamous trawler.
Wyre Majestic Shipwreck
In October 1974 the ship was heading home to Fleetwood from Oban, via the Sound of Islay. It seems that the incompetent or intoxicated (or both) young bosun was at the wheel as they smashed into the rocks, the ‘Skipper’ meanwhile was below deck! Temporarily stranded with their cargo all but lost their ‘three hour tour’ was an unmitigated disaster...
This would never have happened with these guys in charge!
It was at this point that we had to say goodbye to Michael but not before he was allowed to ‘have a go’ on a beautiful 1950s Duffie truck. He was like a delighted schoolboy!
The happiest man on Islay.
...but who’s this stowaway???
I would try and be nice and say that Michael didn’t miss out on too much later on but he really, really did... (Sorry buddy!)
à bientôt Monsieur Vachon!
Port Ellen distillery was mothballed in 1983 and subsequently dismantled. The surviving stock of Single Malt Scotch Whisky has become the stuff of legend and later that day we were off to meet Jon Beach for a very special Port Ellen tasting, a Magical Mystery Tour no less! Tickets please... all aboard!
We picked up a rather delicate-feeling Neil Ridley from caskstrength.net en route...
...but there’s always time for our Caol Ila cask on wheels of course!
The first ‘bonus’ dram was provided by us, Batch 3 of That Boutique-y Whisky Company's Port Ellen!!!
This chap looks familiar.
Tasting note for Port Ellen – Batch 3 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) (56.2%)
Nose: Sherbet lemons and chamois leather – who’d have thunk it?! Toffee apples too with lime and a little honey.
Palate: Lip-smacking fruit salad.
Finish: Lingering and rounded with subtle peat.
Overall: Nicely rounded, classic Port Ellen – the perfect start to #iPed2013!
...and with the destruction of Cat’s sunglasses iPed 2013 was officially underway!
...a short trip along to the lighthouse later...
#1 Port Ellen 27 Year Old 1982 – The Nectar of the Daily Drams – 53% abv
Tasting note for Port Ellen 27 Year Old 1982 – The Nectar of the Daily Drams:
Nose: Kiwi, mango and mixed candied peels, especially lime. Sliced melon.
Palate: Salty, sweet and tropical with just enough oomph.
Finish: Smooth melon.
Overall: Fairly light and sweet, a delicious Belgian bottling.
The money shot.
...and then back around to the old distillery buildings...
#2 Glasgow: European City of Culture 1990 Blended Scotch Whisky (Douglas Laing) – 40% abv
Tasting note for Glasgow: European City of Culture 1990 Blended Scotch Whisky (Douglas Laing):
Nose: Werther’s Originals, delicious grain, slightly oily.
Palate: Vanilla toffee and spice, a touch of peat.
Finish: Toffee. Toffee. Toffee.
Overall: Yummy, toffee goodness and there’s probably some Port Ellen in there too...
The original Port Ellen distillery kiln house...
...and some artwork purchased earlier that day.
#3 Port Ellen 23 Year Old 1983 – Paradise Lost – 56.8% abv
Tasting note for Port Ellen 23 Year Old 1983 – Paradise Lost:
Nose: Oily and slightly sweaty, lemon sherbets, slightly herbal, pepper.
Palate: Big with developing passion fruit and papaya as well as a little caramel.
Finish: Unbuttered toast, perhaps croutons.
Overall: Interesting, with more herbal and rubbery notes.
Jon wonders whether Doc Brown can help him travel back in time to get his hands on more delicious Port Ellen.
The original Port Ellen kiln floor.
#4 Port Ellen 1982 – Connoisseurs Choice (Gordon & MacPhail) – 2003 bottling (40%)
Nose: Plasticine, citrus and some tropical notes.
Palate: Lemon cream, a little thin.
Finish: Gentle oak.
Overall: Plasticine -> citrus -> oak. Not bowled over by this one.
Next up was a very special bottling...
#5 Port Ellen Alpha!!!
Tasting Note for Port Ellen Alpha:
Nose: Rich tropical notes and fresh bread being baked, perhaps even champagne.
Palate: Citrus, mango and oak all intermingle on the palate, tremendous stuff.
Finish: Drying, rich tropical fruits.
Overall: The pick of the bunch, but what is it???...
AND THE MYSTERY BOTTLE WAS...
Port Ellen 20 Year Old 1978 – Rare Malts Selection – 60.9% abv
#6 Port Ellen 1983 – Scott’s Selection – 55.5% abv
Tasting Note for Port Ellen 1983 – Scott’s Selection
Nose: More woody than most of the previous drams, some tropical fruit and cigar boxes even.
Palate: Peaches with fragrant wood developing later on the palate.
Finish: Peppered fruit and oak.
Overall: More orchard fruit and wood than any of the previous whiskies.
Grumpy face building. Grrr...
A very content Content Writer.
A few other bonus drams were circulated too, a classic Brora, a cracking jaffa cake and vanilla-rich Clynelish and, at the start, even some of The An Linnean Blend! This was a blend created by last year’s Master of Malt team out of the 2012 festival bottlings but it was the Living Room Whisky guys who brought it along rather than us!
Some of the bonus drams...
After the fantastic tasting a cask head was even signed for posterity!
One of the real highlights of the trip, Jon Beach we salute you. Just enough time left in the day for a quick boogie over at Laphroaig...