The ultra-rare bottles are a delicious return to form for the historic whisky maker, which originally shuttered in the 1980s.
Port Ellen is synonymous with superior single malt Scotch. The legendary distillery off the southeastern shores of Scotland is responsible for some of the most sought after whiskies of the 21st century. What makes the liquid so special? Beyond the exceptionality of its maritime-forward house style, people tend to pine for what they can’t have. And this facility hasn’t actually produced something new in over 40 years. Any releases during the interim have come from a dwindling cache of patiently-aged reserve stock.
That all changes this March when Port Ellen is reborn along the coast of Islay, atop the same plot of land it’s called home since 1825. To commemorate the historic occasion, the distillery is readying a pair of peated malts older than anything its ever released before. The 44-year-old siblings, aptly titled Gemini, are packaged together and heading to the tippy-top shelf of a select liquor store (hopefully somewhat) near you.
The tandem single malts rely entirely on whisky drawn from just three European oak casks, vessels that were originally filled at the distillery back in 1978. Port Ellen Gemini Original is an otherwise untouched representation of those commingled casks—crafted at a time when disco was still taken very seriously. It paints a poignant picture of the house style, a robust blend of brown sugar, bonfire, and salted seaweed, tempered only by the slow, steady hand of time.
Port Ellen Gemini Remnant is a richer riff on the original, thanks to a secondary maturation in a unique sherry-seasoned “remnant cask.” That’s an industry term for a makeshift holding tank, of sorts. It’s typically filled with the ends of assorted distillation runs in need of a temporary home before they head off to a more permanent destination. When the distillery shuttered in 1983, a band of local whisky makers salvaged the vessel and kept it safe for more than four decades—an important reminder that not all heroes wear capes.
For more information please visit https://scotchwhisky.com/whiskypedia/2075/port-ellen/