16th SpRel 2950 bottles 2016, refill am hgsh/refill eur sh butts
Distillery/Brand: Port Ellen
Score: 96p (N: 23 T: 25 A: 24 C: 24)
Oldest Port Ellen so far and still smoke-gorging and obviously oak dominant. Extensive great peat palate. Peat and iodine facing a hodgepodge of syrup-drenched esters, small citrus tussle with drier sandalwood, towards the end sour logs and tart red currants. Huge blackened oak in the aftermath, like 90% chocolate with streaks of liquorice, sporadically hurtful fruit acid. Gradually the oak succumbs facing a lengthy smoke cluster with mild creosote and iodine swinging towards burnt wood and finally peat smoke rising from the depths. The laborious bouquet is still best at cask strength. A big-smoker sitting uncomfortable with BBQ/charcuterie (metworst/elk sausage) and tar, in depth sauerkraut/toothpaste. Water brings out more sauerkraut with mustard. Though more water mutes the BBQ nose with damping lime syrup. Water makes the mouth even more incredible. Kaleidoscopic exotic fruit potpourri, a sweeter palate offering sweet smoky tar/BBQ sauce. More fruit in the long aftertaste, rich tropical with small citrus, late menthol oak instead of bitter tones, sooty burnt wood embrace. More water gives a simpler lighter taste where peat moves towards diesel/chocolate cake followed by lots of esters rolling out a light-hearted fruit orgy finish with puffs of peat smoke. Suddenly, crushed pineapple and creosote. All lands in a chocolate cakey smoky apple-musty mouthfeel. Full marks for a mouth that deliver at various strengths and the variation in the after play is so exciting. Never thought I would crave for even older Port Ellen, but the distillate steps up every year and never ceases to surprise. Can a future 40-year-old get even better?