There are a few distilleries that when mentioned, whisky connoisseurs would have a dram without asking any questions. One such distillery is Port Ellen that closed its doors in 1983. The “ghost distillery” is now owned by Diageo, and where master distiller Jim Beveridge has been very carefully blending the dwindling stock to deliver the best expressions.
In the second release of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare, Port Ellen is the highlight among another two ghost whiskies and five rare expressions. All eight whiskies are at least 20 years old with the youngest drop of Port Ellen at 34 years old.
It’s a play of words, we don’t know how many different Port Ellen whiskies are in the blend, and neither do we the ratio of each malt used. The two other ghost whiskies are from Caledonian and Carsebridge, the rare malts are from Mortlach, Dailuaine, Cragganmore, Blair Athol and Oban. What Diageo has is every whisky lover’s dream, to own many great distilleries with interesting stories, combine them and make new stories.
One thing we know is it tastes, complex but incredibly easy! Just like how Brand Ambassador Jeremy Lee described it, “Yummy!” Compared to the classic Johnnie Walker Blue Label, the Ghost & Rare Port Ellen at 43.8% abv has a silkier texture and more complex flavours. It has strong ripe tropical fruit notes, caramel sweetness and a long finish of ginseng and citrus, then ends with that very slight smokiness, leaving some warmth in your chest which we think is great for a nightcap.
There is a very limited number of bottles available, again, the number is not disclosed. What we can say is if you are buying this, make sure you get two bottles. One to enjoy and one to keep.
Diageo has announced the re-opening of Port Ellen Distillery in 2020. They will try to produce whisky and new stills as close to the original Port Ellen style as possible. The earliest we could taste their result would be 2032 from their 12-year-old. Will they wait that long or will we see earlier releases to cater to market demand?
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