May of this year saw the release of the outstanding Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare with Brora. That it would be followed by a Blue Label centered around that other trophy malt from Diageo – Port Ellen – should surprise no one. I was fortunate enough to taste it before its official release (thanks, AD!). While the Brora edition already costs 250 EUR, this one is a little more expense. It was bottled at the unconventional 43.8% ABV. This time around the Ghost refers to Caledonian and Carsebridge (and Port Ellen, of course), while the Rare is represented by Mortlach, Dailuaine, Cragganmore, Blair Athol and Oban.
The nose is dark and sweet with lots of red fruit, a tad fatty and candy-like shrouded in some distant smoke. Patience offers blood oranges, baked apples with cinnamon and some dades. Soft vanilla. But… I have to be honest… I find it neither complex nor exciting. This is very good, but not earthshattering.
It is nicely oily, soft on the spices (but they become louder quickly) and fruity. Yes, this is much better! And very maritime. So much more than the nose promised, which is a relief! Dark and sweet fruit and loads of citrus (oranges in the lead), some vanilla and toffee, but also quite a bit of smoke. And waxy. The fruit slowly evolves towards some tropical notes, while the smoke keeps lingering in the back.
The finish is the clincher. Wonderfully long, smoky warm and – I kid you not – some Port Ellen finally shines through with clarity.
I must confess, I was quite worried when I nosed it at first. But once past the lips, it proves its pedigree. The finish is awesome. Having said that… the Bora release was much more to my liking.