I was in the middle of writing about independent bottlers when I was invited to join my friends for a drink earlier tonight. Despite having the contents of a pulled pork sandwich dropped on my kicks TWICE tonight, this was an absolutely AMAZING evening for Scotch appreciation. I'll try to recount my mental notes, but many drams went back and forth throughout the night.
Isle of Jura 14yr
A special bottling of Isle of Jura quite unlike the 10yr or 16yr, this was bottled at 46% ABV and unchill-filtered. When my order arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find it served in a Glencairn glass and natural colored!
Appearance: A light cloudy yellow. Obviously non-chill-filtered without any additional caramel coloring.
Nose: A delicious sweet vanilla wafer aroma with hints of citrus, salt, spice, and peat. After opening up, the citrus notes really come alive.
Taste: Surprisingly full bodied. Stronger emphasis on the salt, malt, spiciness, and peaty notes (although not as bold as a Talisker). A tiny splash of water helped the sweetness round out the whisky.
Signatory Port Ellen 26yr
Perhaps the most special whisky I've had to date. This is an incredibly rare independent bottling of a vintage Port Ellen (distillery ceased operations back in 1983 so getting ahold of ANY Port Ellen whisky is a rare treat). Port Ellen was an Islay distillery and it certainly shows.
Appearance: A light cloudy yellow once again. A non-chill-filtered, natural colored Signatory bottling at cask strength which probably accounts for the fairly oily consistency in the glass.
Nose: Immediately tobacco. Then very distinctive Islay notes of peat, camp fire, and sea air. Also hints of sour fruit and apples. The fruit and tobacco lingered well after the whisky was gone.
Taste: An undeniably full bodied, full flavored Islay whisky. Many of the same elements as the nose, but a heavy dose of tobacco, malt, peat, and sea water. Very little of the flavor is masked by alcohol, even at full cask strength. A couple drops of water brought the apples and fruit way forward.
My hat is off to the individual who covered the Port Ellen.