This superb Port Ellen has the mild, maritime nose and powerful, smoky and medicinal flavours of a classic distillery expression, enriched by an interesting light sweetness.
Restrained at first, and maritime in character, with noticeable tar and linseed-oil. Next impressions are herbal - of burnt rosemary and juniper - and there's an elusive honeyed, sweet note behind this, as with an old Sauternes. Water brings out this softer sweetness and introduces candle-wax, along with pipe smoke. The herbal note remains in the distance, like dried bay leaves, but it's the honey and sweet oak that come to dominate.
Medium to full.
Concentrated and powerful at natural strength, the flavour pools on the middle of the palate then blasts out in all directions. Smoky and very medicinal, it's also sweet. With water the initial assault subsides into a delicious mid-palate flavour that's tooth-coating, smooth and chewy, still with light sweetness and plenty of smoke.
As the smoke lingers the flavour dries away, to remind you of tarry ropes and long-spent beach-bonfires.