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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Good Die Young....(or just fade away in old casks....)

As well as being huge consumers of whisky, us caskstrengther's are also voracious consumers of new music.
I am currently obsessed with a new website called Spotify - an online service that allows the listener to 'stream' pretty much ANY album, new or old, for free, at high quality and, get this- legitimately (record companies approve) . It's like having a gigantic record collection, spanning every decade, without actually owning a single record.

How does this relate to whisky? I hear you ask.

Well I have been spending lots of time (well days) listening to the back catalogue's of hundred's of artists I didn't know a lot about. Records which have long since been forgotten or underrated. Also ones I have loved but thankfully revisited and rediscovered. Kind of reminded me about little known distilleries or those closed classics we all eulogise about!

I got thinking about The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Nick Drake and of course Lennon. Heroes of rock - Amazing classic records. But then I got thinking - imagine if they had lived long, fruitful lives instead of becoming fallen Icons of the 60's. Would their musical legacies remain intact, or become jaded by complacent releases and burgeoning waist lines.

This brings me to Port Ellen. Those who have read our previous posts about the distillery will know that we are hugely keen on it.

We recently got to try a 30 year old Platinum Collection Port Ellen, which got our pulses racing at the mere sight of the silvery label. But would its contents re-live those halcyon days of the distillery, or be a shadow of its former self....

Douglas Laing Platinum Collection - 30 yo Port Ellen - 52.5% - Distilled September 1978 - 370 bottles

Lint bandages, sea spray with a lovely sweet creamy fudge. Very mild peat, much lighter than some of the younger versions we've tried.

Palate: Very different vibe to the relatively gentle aromas emerging from the
glass- definitive and gritty, with coal dust, something slightly rubbery (think thick rubber bands) with a rich sweetness, leading into licorice notes.

Finish: Back to the lighter medicinal notes of the nose, leading into dryness. Some salty crispy bacon notes emerge on the death.

Overall: Tricky to knock this whisky, as it has some sublime good points, but it's equally tricky to totally love it. It feels a little tired and worn, compared to previous bottlings. It's perhaps easy to say that this is just too old, but I wonder if it runs deeper than that.

Rather like imagining what music Hendrix would be producing now, I also sometimes wonder what kind of whisky Port Ellen would be distilling today, had it not have been dismantled in 1983. Chances are, they would be turning out classics, long after everyone else had called it a day but sadly, we'll never get to know...