Whisky Advocate

Review: Chieftain’s Port Ellen, 1982 vintage

June 30th, 2010

Chieftain’s (distilled at Port Ellen), 1982 vintage, 25 year old, 43%, $280
Port Ellen whiskies are getting pretty rare (and expensive). This one is softer and less vibrant than others that I’ve tasted, but still very much Port Ellen. And still enjoyable! Notes of coal tar, rooty licorice, toffee, dark chocolate, and nougat, with background citrus gum drops, ginger, brine, seaweed, peat bog and damp oak.  I think bottling this at 46% without chill-filtering, or perhaps even cask-strength, would have helped the flavors “zing” (and elevated my rating).

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 86

No Responses to “Review: Chieftain’s Port Ellen, 1982 vintage”

  1. Even for a Port Ellen, a price of $280 for a 43% bottling is pretty steep. And taking into account your score that shows it’s obviusly not one the true classics, it might be better to shop around for an affordable cask strength bottling.

  2. Hunter O. says:

    This is probably a silly question, but if all these Port Ellens are so liked and well regarded, why don’t they examine reviving the distillary?

  3. Bill says:

    A sillier question — do all these distilleries send full-sized bottles to you for tasting? Or do they fill smaller bottles?

  4. KLD says:

    The score versus price might attract a more dedicated collector. This tells us it is drinkable, but the interpretation could arguably read ‘watered-down coal.’ It seems like the cask preparation for bottling is the distraction. However, the bottle merited a review and I appreciate it, John.

  5. B.J. Reed says:

    I have ordered this one because: 1. It is a Port Ellen; 2) it sounded slightly different than the ones I currently have; 3) I got it for about $200 and a 25 YO Port Ellen for $200 these days is a good deal.

    Keep in mind John gave this an 86 – Not a bad score. My favorite is still the Providence bottling of a Sherried 22 YO Port Ellen but this one is worth adding to the collection.

  6. David D says:

    Having tasted this bottle and owning one myself, I have to say that John’s score is a little low. I think it’s one of the best whiskies I have ever tasted.

    • John Hansell says:

      David, thanks for posting your thoughts on this whisky. I always welcome alternative opinions. Like BJ said above, I did like it. I just didn’t like it enough to put it up in with the other elite Port Ellens.

  7. David D says:

    I know you liked it, but so many people look at sub 90 scores as, “eh.” Especially when they’re close to $300. As the first commenter said, the score of 86 made him want to look elsewhere. Even at 43% this whisky really blew me away. I was really impressed with the entire Cheiftain’s line up and think they are worth everyone’s time, despite the fact that most people want cask strength or 46%. This was just one time where I really really liked something more than you did. 🙂

    • B.J. Reed says:

      I have the Chieftain’s Ledaig 34 YO – Really, really good – Makes me consider buying more of their stock

      • John Hansell says:

        Never had that one, but it sounds exciting. Was it one of those old heavily peated ones?

        • B.J. Reed says:

          Yeah, its got peat – picked it up at Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh – Here is some info they had:

          Nose: A lot of smoke for its age, Campari, a complex melange of fruits, heavily peated malt, glue. Becomes more pungent with water.

          Palate: Soft and rolling texture that doesn’t disappoint. Mandarins. Tastes its age.

          Overall: Very impressive complexity and with a pleasing well-rounded yet powerful character.

    • John Hansell says:

      David, the line is solid–no clunkers that I’ve tasted yet, but nothing that has blown me away either. Still, the prices seem reasonable and I encourage everyone to “try before they buy”.

      I am hoping that people see that I am not as “gratuitious” in my ratings as some other and consider this when considering my scores. I think anything above an “80” is worth considering.

    • Steffen Bräuner says:

      I normally shy away from watered down whiskies but had quite a lot og good expereinces with chieftains. Seems like they know what they are doing


  8. […] is presenting a tasting dinner with some of the recently released Chieftains Whiskies including the Port Ellen 1982 Vintage.  It’s hosted by Ed Kohl, the national brand ambassador for Signatory, who has been known to […]

  9. […] in June, I reviewed a Chieftain’s 25 year old Port Ellen whisky. You can see here that I gave it a good review, but not a great […]

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