Port Ellen 33yo Boutique-y & 1983 Duncan Taylor

In recent weeks, I found myself on the cusp of reaching my 2000th unique whisky tasting. As with any significant milestone, I craved a special celebratory dram. Fortunately, I had received a couple of Port Ellen samples from friends, making them the perfect candidates for my 1999th and 2000th whiskies.

But as Port Ellen distillery was to reopen its doors after a 40 years hiatus, my 2000th tasting was at risk of occurring amidst the bustling chaos of the Lyon Whisky Festival, where precise timing is nearly impossible due to a whisky festival’s frenetic pace. So, I decided to take an ultra-small sip of one of the Port Ellen whiskies right at the 2000th milestone. But fear not – I later savoured both whiskies properly on a serene Sunday morning. By that point, I had already surpassed 2050 drams tasted.

Picture this: the Palais de la Bourse in Lyon, bathed in morning light, almost empty except for myself and a dear friend, Aurélien, as the opening of the second day of the show was not yet to happen for the next 80 minutes. Together, we shared the experience of tasting these two remarkable whiskies: the 33-year-old Port Ellen Boutique-y and the 1983 Duncan Taylor. Our tasting notes were penned collaboratively, as we tried those whiskies together. Whisky is for sharing and drinking, after all.

Port Ellen 33-year-old Batch 6 That Boutique-y Whisky Company Review

This 33-year-old Port Ellen originated from a refill butt that was filled in March 1983 and subsequently bottled in 2017. The renowned independent bottler That Boutique-y Whisky Company produced a total of 250 standard 500 ml bottles, along with 18 smaller 375 ml bottles specifically for the USA, labelled as batch 7. These bottles were all filled at 47.5% ABV, without undergoing chill filtration or colour additives. Interestingly, there’s still a site in the UK offering this Port Ellen, priced at £1,200. Meanwhile, if you happen to be in the USA, there’s another website listing the 375 ml batch 7 for $999.

Port Ellen 1983 33-year-old Batch 6 That Boutique-y Whisky Company




Neat: Upon nosing, we detect a medley of citrus fruits such as orange, grapefruit, and kumquat alongside the essence of roasted pineapple. A waft of dry smoke reminiscent of burning heather and moss permeates, evoking the earthiness of undergrowth.

With water: With reduction, subtle hints of light red fruits emerge, reminiscent of strawberry jam, complemented by notes of paprika and roasted mango.


Neat: Initially, a pleasingly dry and spicy sensation unfolds on the palate, accompanied by the oak smoke. Following this, pronounced saline notes akin to the seawater from an oyster emerge, intertwined with the green olive brine and hints of iodine. Subtle undertones of embrocations and fresh gaze with a dash of pepper. Really pure.

With water: Upon dilution, a fleeting sweetness momentarily graces the palate before giving way to zesty citrus notes reminiscent of lime juice and smoked lime zest. The peat character intensifies, taking on a more viscous and tarry quality.


Olive brine, soft smoke, maybe traces of soot, heather


Beautiful and pure Port Ellen. Lovely fruity note, with a palate very pure, coastal and medicinal. This is my 2,000th new whisky tasted, and a great way to celebrate this milestone. Aurélien rated this Port Ellen 33-year-old Batch 6 That Boutique-y Whisky Company 8.5/10. I’ll stay a wee bit lower but this is without a doubt a great whisky.

Rating: 8/10

Port Ellen 1983 Duncan Taylor Review

Our second Port Ellen was distilled in March 1983 and matured in Sherry cask #684. However, it was bottled a few years prior than the Boutique-y, in 2010, at the age of 26 by Duncan Taylor. With only 282 bottles filled at 54.6% ABV, and no chill filtration or artificial colouring added, this expression has since sold out. Your sole opportunity to procure a bottle would be through the secondary market.

Port Ellen 1983 Duncan Taylor




Neat: The sherry cask influence is unmistakeable from the outset, evident in rich nutty tones of almond and hazelnut, accompanied by rancio, polished wood, and the sweetness of dried figs and red fruits. It’s akin to reclining in a plush Chesterfield armchair, with subtle hints of burnt pine sap and a delicate wisp of smoke lingering in the background.

With water: Introducing water reveals an enticing aroma reminiscent of new leather shoes freshly polished with leather polish, alongside lighter notes of prune. The smoke, once subtle, now emerges more prominently.


Neat: Initially, the palate welcomes with a sweet sherry presence, which gradually transitions into a drier sherry profile accompanied by a satisfying burst of spices. Robust rancio and refreshing menthol notes interplay seamlessly, while the peat asserts itself with a distinct vegetal character intertwined with hints of tar and earthiness reminiscent of a stable and horse saddle. Flavours arrive progressively like the backwash: nuances of grapefruit and kumquat peel emerge, followed by fleeting appearances of red fruits like gooseberries, swiftly replaced by a wave of saline notes.

With water: Adding water amplifies the spice and alcohol warmth on the palate, accompanied by a sensation of comforting heat. Subtle hints of wood polish and delicate lemon notes emerge, alongside a kick of chili pepper and the sweetness of candied ginger.


The finish leaves behind lingering saline notes, accompanied by hints of brine and subtle wood tannins. However, despite these flavourful elements, the finish surprisingly dissipates rather swiftly.


An exceptional whisky indeed. Surprisingly, the smoke is almost imperceptible on the nose when tasted neat, but it emerges magnificently on the palate. This Port Ellen truly benefits from the addition of water, revealing its full complexity with just a few drops. Absolutely superb. Aurélien slightly favoured the Boutique-y expression and gives this Port Ellen an 8/10, while I lean towards the Duncan Taylor bottling and rate it slightly higher.

Rating: 8.5/10

Thank you so much Sam & Renaud! And Aurélien of course, for trying them with me! Lead photo: Diageo. Bottles photos: Whiskybase.

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