Whisky Advocate

Special Lagavulin & Port Ellen for Islay Whisky Festival

May 10th, 2008

Until recently, Diageo was reluctant to release special whiskies during the Islay Whisky Festival, which occurs annually at the end of May. That has all changed.

This year, they will be releasing two single cask bottlings, including a rare 1981 vintage Port Ellen of which there will be only about 200 bottles. It is the first single cask bottling ever released by Diageo for the general public. (You will have to get it at the Caol Ila distillery, since Port Ellen was closed in 1983.)

I am including the press release below, which also includes pricing. I imagine that the Port Ellen will be sold out in a very short time.


For this month’s Islay Festival of Malt and Music in May, two exceptional single-cask malt whisky bottlings are being released, for sale exclusively to visitors attending this annual celebration, that attracts malt whisky aficionados from all over the world to Scotland’s famous whisky island.

Following the great success of last year’s single-cask bottling, Lagavulin distillery will be releasing just over 500 bottles drawn from a single European oak cask. Cask No. 1403 was filled on 13 April 1993, and was hand-picked in Warehouse No. 1 by well-known Lagavulin warehouseman Iain MacArthur who has worked at the distillery since 1983. The 15 year old Lagavulin™ single malt whisky was bottled earlier this year at a natural cask strength of 52.9%, and will sell at the distillery for at £59.

Rarer still will be a very exceptional single-cask bottling  –  the first ever by the Distillers –   of the iconic Port Ellen™ single malt. The whisky in this ex Refill American Oak cask was distilled in April 1981, just a couple of years before the distillery finally closed in 1983. The cask has yielded a mere 200 or so bottles, at a natural cask strength of  56.6%.

The Port Ellen will be on sale at Caol Ila distillery for £99.99. It will not be on sale at the Port Ellen Maltings.

Peter Campbell, at the Port Ellen Maltings on Islay, said “It’s uncanny to have the first-ever official single cask bottling from a distillery that went silent 25 years ago. We’re expecting these bottles to sell out very quickly indeed.”

The Lagavulin™ single cask bottling will go on sale at the distillery’s Open Day on Saturday 24 May. The Port Ellen™ single cask bottling will go on sale at Caol Ila distillery on the distillery’s Open Day on 26 May. In both cases the limit is one bottle per visitor. Neither bottling will be available at any other location.

The Lagavulin open day during the Festival is Saturday 24 May. The Port Ellen Maltings open days are 26, 27 and 29 May. The Caol Ila open day is 26 May.

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