The View from the Golden Promise is a chance to see the bottles under the hammer at finespirits.auction in a new light. To give you this fresh perspective, we’ve called on two experts from the Golden Promise Whisky Bar.
53.9%, 70 cl, 2011
Of all the Port Ellen Annual Releases, the twelfth—which I have already written about—and the eleventh are my favourites. The nose screams “Port Ellen” with its notes of apple peel and nuts (walnut, almond), and a smoky, tarry, and sooty peat. The palate is sharper, revealing notes of citrus fruit, young and still quite strong olive oil, and salt, all wonderfully underpinned by a deliciously ashy smoke. A great example of what this distillery does best.
54.7%, 70 cl, 2011
This Brora brings to mind the 1972, a vintage that is particularly cherished by fans of the distillery. It has the same austerity, revealed in mineral, farmyard, medicinal and peaty notes. The whisky is unbelievably waxy and notes of white-fleshed fruits (peach) and citrus (lemon) make for a particularly sharp and lively tasting.
58.7%, 70 cl
Founded in 2005, French independent bottler La Part des Anges achieved a real master stroke in 2005 by including this Port Ellen sherry cask in its first bottlings. This version is every bit as good as those offered by Scotland’s already established names such as Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory Vintage. All the key characteristics of the Islay distillery are there, with the nose revealing peat, soot and coal, wet rigging and lobster pots. Everything recreates the feel of fishing boats returning from sea amid a fresh coastal breeze. The medicinal side is there too, expressed in gentle notes of absinthe. The palate then is rich and spicy (candied ginger) and we are taken down into the engine room as salt rushes in to coat the lips and palate. Next we visit a kiln, biting into peat-dried barley. The finish is long, malty and peaty. A resolutely marine Port Ellen.
43%, 70 cl
Founded by Suntory in 1973, 50 years after the Yamazaki distillery, Hakushu, which is located in the Southern Japanese Alps, was expanded in 1977 to became the largest malt distillery in the world. In 1981, a new, more modern distillery opened on the same site and the old distillery ceased production. Hakushu’s single malts have always been in the shadow of its older sister located near Osaka, and yet they are every bit as good, albeit in a different style. The 18 Year Old was launched in 2006 but is today becoming increasingly rare. Peat is often mentioned when talking about the distillery, but in fact its presence is extremely subtle, as we can see in this particular edition. In fact, if we had to sum up this 18 year old in just word, “subtle” would be it. The nose is refined and delicate, revealing candied lemon, musk and black pepper, with herbaceous notes (sap, gentian) complementing the freshness of grass and mint. Vanilla and tarragon cream sprinkled with nutmeg adds richness. The palate is fluid and oily, revealing a very measured expression of peat (a hint of soot and burnt wood). Next, tangy notes of citrus fruit enveloped in spices, as well as a gentle rancio and dried herbs add the finishing touches to the flavour palette. The finish is long and fresh, keeping intact the same herbaceous notes. A well-mannered but wonderfully complex whisky.