Port Ellen 12th Release

Overall rating
Whiskybase ID
Single Malt
Distillery Bottling
Bottling serie
Diageo Special Releases 2012
Stated Age
32 years old
American and European Oak Casks
Number of bottles
52.5 % Vol.
700 ml 750 ml
Added on
03 sep 2012 4:47 pm
UncoloredNon-chillfilteredCask Strength

Average value

€ 3978.77

87 × in wishlist

287 × member ratings

520 × in collection

Whisky reviews for Port Ellen 12th Release

38 users have left 45 reviews for this whisky. Average rating is 91.69 points.

  1. detachedblue scored this whisky 93 points Connoisseur

    This is my favourite of all releases, a little bit funky and dirty compare to others.
    • Nose
      Very creamy, pineapples, sour apple, lemon oil, very perfumy, toffee and BBQ sauce
    • Taste
      Mineral peat, plastic, sweet orange, quite perfumy
    • Finish
      Long, camphor, fresh, not much oak

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  3. Whiskyisfordrinking did not rate this whisky Expert Senior

    N: oh it's good, greasy, intense and strong, sweetish caramel, subtle smoked oysters.
    G: intense and strong here too, salty, seafood, orange marmalade, the bacon stays on top.
    A: Here it gets fresher again, citrus fruits, but also a bitterness from the wood, here rather younger, harder.

  4. WhiskySteen scored this whisky 95 points Expert Junior

    The amount and quality of peat after so many years. And to taste such a gem on Islay ...

  5. BlueFire scored this whisky 93 points Member Senior

    Not expressive on the nose. Elegant, refined, balanced, complex, precise with fruit, lemons, tropical, wax, smoke, minerals.

  6. hyc scored this whisky 93 points Expert Senior

    • Nose
      93 93
    • Taste
      94 94
    • Finish
      92 92

  7. Funtik scored this whisky 89 points Connoisseur

  8. WiltChamberlain scored this whisky 93 points Connoisseur

    • Nose
      93 93
    • Taste
      93 93
    • Finish
      92 92

  9. Astrid scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

    As Port Ellen as a Port Ellen can be. Due to its old age I expected more virtuosity, but in its straightforwardness it is delicious.
    • Nose
      90 90
    • Taste
      88 88
    • Finish
      87 87

  10. UchidaT scored this whisky 95 points Expert Junior

    Waxy, mineral, maritime, delicately peated and on stone fruits. Sublimely precise.

  11. olegborgol scored this whisky 92 points Connoisseur

    Lots of raspberries, peat in the smoke .. 23-23-23-23

  12. aborovikov scored this whisky 91 points Member Senior


  13. penumbra scored this whisky 93 points Expert Senior

    Does anyone think that the SR from PE is not as good as the big cat?
    • Nose
      The upper-medium peat, it is said that the big guy in the late 70s discussed how to drop it, don’t like heavy peat anymore, kerosene, camphor, Arctic shellfish, tundra, northern beaches, sea oyster shells, just disinfected Swimming pool. The main style is the sweetness of the ocean, not as powerful as the old cat, but the details are more ingenious, smooth and delicate, oil droplets, brine, wax paper, light oil, and powdered sugar bring out the looming fruit acid , Lemon, yellow peach, red heart grapefruit, golden pineapple, vanilla ice cream, dried smoked flowers, PE peat can always contain seemingly irrelevant elements. The flavor is much younger than expected, barbecue sauce, charcoal fire, rhubarb, tanned leather.
      A 32-year-old single barrel can never reach a height.
    • Taste
      The delicate peat sweet water, the coffee hazelnut cake that can be found, 60% nut chocolate, but in general, the oak direction is very restrained compared to the wine age. Peat does not smell rich, salt water, roasted wood, unground whole black pepper, stove ash, cinnamon, tar, sweetness decreased, it is more intense sweet and sour fruit collision, lemon, pineapple, vanilla, some irritating Flavor.
      Love the grease in the 70s peat forever.
      Good, good fat, sweet, slightly sour, no tannins, no astringency, no bitterness, no pungency, no alcohol.
    • Finish
      Longer, coffee beans, cocoa beans, charcoal, brine, fruit, almonds, oak.

  14. Sergm scored this whisky 92 points Expert Junior

    Wonderful PE even though I liked 7th release better. Still amazing whisky.

  15. Yarema scored this whisky 89 points Expert Senior

    It seemed to me that they are simple as for this age. Not hooked. Although the whisky is good but not for the money.
    Nose - 22
    Taste - 23
    Finish - 22
    Balance - 22
    Rating - 89

  16. alex..w..fan scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    21 22 22 22 87 - from the opening

    22 22 21 22 87 - finish of the evening

    tasty, drinkable, not sweet for age and not enough expression, feeling of the same age and soul of PE .... rather there is a feeling of a commercially made whisky, did not live up to expectations, disappointment of the evening.

  17. nallacam scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    • Nose
      91 91
    • Taste
      89 89
    • Finish
      91 91

  18. Lu Cifer scored this whisky 93 points Connoisseur

    • Nose
      93 93
    • Taste
      94 94
    • Finish
      93 93

  19. dram-drinker scored this whisky 92 points Photo Moderator

    Very drinkable and enjoyable
    • Nose
      92 92
      Fresh, sea breeze, iodine, peat and smoke, honey, citrus fruits, lemons, green apples, whiffs of oak wood - very good
    • Taste
      93 93
      Punchy, oily, creamy, salty, sea weed, peat and smoke, bonfire, good sweetness, peaches, fruit juice - great
    • Finish
      91 91
      Long, warm, zesty, more sweetness, hints of old books

  20. Fight65 scored this whisky 91 points Connoisseur

    • Nose
      91 91
    • Taste
      91 91
    • Finish
      90 90

  21. lincolnimp scored this whisky 92 points Connoisseur

    Port Ellen v Brora  

    This Port Ellen  against this Brora https://www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/25968/brora-10th-release 

    Both distilled around the same time, both 32 years old, similar abv , peaty and closed distilleries. 

    The PE is cleaner and more straightforward than the Brora which has more going on profile wise and is much more mineral, what I call a dirty whisky (earthy).  The brora wins this one because of the better profile.

  22. lincolnimp scored this whisky 92 points Connoisseur

    OB Port Ellen H2H result :- 

    1st -  12th release   

    2nd - 2nd Release   

    3rd - 1st Release  

    4th - 22 year Rare Malts   

    5th - 20 year Rare Malts  

    6th - 3rd Release 

    See thread  https://www.whiskybase.com/contribute/group/73/topic/16768/the-head-to-head-whisky-thread-for-tastings-h2h?page=3

  23. lincolnimp scored this whisky 92 points Connoisseur

    Very nice, crisp PE but far too expensive to drink, save your money and buy a nice 30 year IB caol Ila.
    • Nose
      92 92
    • Taste
      92 92
    • Finish
      92 92

  24. lincolnimp scored this whisky 92 points Connoisseur

    With Water :-

    Peat, cream and a little tinned peach now on the nose.

    The palate has become much more fruity with water mainly on white fruits and the peat has also increased.

    Finish is long, salty and drying, the peat just keeps growing.
    • Nose
      Very nice sweet smoke & peat with juicy fruit of fresh pineapple, grapefruit and a yellow plum.

      Hints of glue but it adds to the profile. After a while some gooseberry and raspberry with tar notes
    • Taste
      Creamy, mouth filling, waxy and the peat just keeps coming on the tongue mixing in with grapefruit and pastry but there are a few bitter notes creeping in and it starts to dry your mouth out.

      Quite salty and the alcohol seems to pop on your tongue, it does start to dry your mouth out.
    • Finish
      Long & salty

  25. hs305 scored this whisky 95 points Connoisseur

    [March, 2013]  I had this dram during a "Port Ellen" rarities tasting at Bonn.In
    my old rating system (ten scales that translate into WB points: 50
    - 66 - 75 - 80 - 82,5 - 85 - 87,5 - 90 - 92,5 - 95) I scored it 95.  Unfortunately my detailed notes were lost.

  26. Numwierum scored this whisky 91 points Expert Senior

    Wow, my first Port Ellen ... an incredibly great complex Islay Malt!
    • Nose
      96 96
    • Taste
      95 95
    • Finish
      95 95

  27. bull10298 scored this whisky 85 points Expert Senior

    The 12th release of the highly-prized ?lost? Islay single malt was distilled in
    1979 and matured in refill American Oak and refill European Oak casks. The nose
    majors in maritime notes, with sweet peat, leather, a whiff of chlorine, damp
    earth and cashew nuts. Becoming sweeter and more floral with time. Brine and
    coal dust initially on the slightly woody palate, with fruit, vanilla and more
    leather appearing in time. The finish features bonfire smoke, fabric plasters
    and finally dries very emphatically, A very good veteran dram, but last year?s
    1978 bottling had greater overall charm.



  28. whiskyroma scored this whisky 93 points Expert Senior

    An amazing taste of Port Ellen, however it will be difficult to do due the growing price.
    • Nose
      Peat, tar, coal, camphorated oil for the beginning of a extraodinary sensory trip, finally mineral notes and burned paper.                                                                           Sea notes, sea food and wet sand.
    • Taste
      Wow, oysters, peat, salt and medicine, lime juice to join the second step: Iron tastes and mineral one, with salty butter and sweet egg cream.                                Final roller coaster with rot banana and mango.
    • Finish
      Salty notes, coal, salty butter, dried fruits, liquorice and finally lemon. 

  29. whiskyroma scored this whisky 93 points Expert Senior

    • Nose
      94 94
    • Taste
      95 95
    • Finish
      96 96

  30. eleiko5 scored this whisky 91 points Expert Senior

    Port Ellen 32 yo 1979 ‘12th release’
    (52,5%, OB 2012, 2964 btl.)

    Nose: very maritime. Brine, seashells, oysters, camphor, wet gravel… Lots of mineral and a few floral hints too. Subtle smoke and iodine. Fresh, sharp and focused, sure, but too one-dimensional for an official Port Ellen in my opinion. Water helps, it brings out lemon and rhubarb, as well as an oriental wood scent. Aromatic, but maybe not a total benchmark. Mouth: peaty and briney, medium weight, with ashes and a grapefruit bitterness. Hints of gentian. Seaweed. Then a herbalness and leathery notes. Resinous oak. Cold smoke. Again a tad too focused on the earthy, mineral and pungent side of PE. Sweet and sour kiwi notes or faint vanilla only come out very late and in tiny amounts. Finish: dry, long, fairly zesty and coastal with liquorice and a pinch of salt.

    It’s clear that this year’s bottling is a brilliant showcase of the coastal, mineral and austere side of Port Ellen. I tend to prefer the more balanced, vanilla-infused expressions though (7th or 10th release for instance). This is far from a disappointment, but at this price level I don’t feel the slightest need to chase it in stores. Around € 750, but I’ve seen £ 1500 in one of these greedy stores who think they can get away with everything.

    Score: 91/100




  31. whiskyroma scored this whisky 93 points Expert Senior

    • Nose
      94 94
    • Taste
      92 92
    • Finish
      94 94

  32. zby0001 scored this whisky 93 points Expert Senior

    • Nose
      95 95
    • Taste
      93 93
    • Finish
      92 92

  33. Aetius scored this whisky 96 points Expert Senior

    A challenging, complex, peaty dram. Just like I love them.
    • Nose
      Powerful oak with lots and lots of vanilla and caramel notes. Quite flowery nose, with aspects of cake and citrus, and with a salty sea undertone. Lovely, interesting and complex.
    • Taste
      Quite sweet, with a citrusy tang, along with quite prominent pepper and bonfire smoke.
    • Finish
      The taste grows with time and becomes stronger and broader, with powerful citrus and pepper, while the sweetness takes second fiddle along with the prevailing smoke and peaty flavors.

  34. WhiskyJug did not rate this whisky Expert Senior

    Port Ellen 32 yo 1979/2012 ‘12th Annual Release’ (52.5%, OB, 2964 bottles)
    Colour: pale gold. Nose: as expected, this older baby is less in your
    face and, to be honest, much more complex and subtle. I’m glad we had
    the monsters before, that stresses even more to which extend the new one
    is complex. The first aromas are pretty similar (tar and such) but many
    tinier notes do develop over time, especially all what comes from
    ageing coastal peat, that is to say camphor, putty, plasticine, almonds,
    old coal stove, shellfish (our beloved whelks), old motor oil, waxed
    papers, ink, chimney ashes, seaweed… No need to say that this nose is
    brilliant. With water: same. It was already complex and so it remains.

    I’d say the difference with the younger ones isn’t as big as on the
    nose, it’s still a potent, almost pungent whisky, with absolutely no
    signs of fatigue although again, it’s rather more complex. So once
    again, it’s the sappy/resinous part that grew bigger, with more camphor
    again, cough syrup, wax… It’s also very lemony and briny again, this
    should go extremely well with (the most expensive) oysters. With water:
    sadly, it’s great. I wrote sadly because it’s so expensive – as Pete and
    Jack said, many good friends can’t afford to show their good taste
    anymore. Anyway, there are more tropical fruits than in any earlier
    expressions, we’re starting to experience what can be found in old
    Laphroaigs, for example. Or in last year’s release, by the way. Superb!
    Finish: long, complex, chiselled, almondy, liquoricy, tarry, salty and,
    again, a little tropical. Lemons and grapefruits. Comments: mixed
    feelings, because of the prices. Just like last year’s release, it’s
    fabulous whisky, no doubt whatsoever, but it’s very sad that, as I said,
    some friends who really know their whisky won’t be able to buy it
    anymore. The worst problem is that, contrarily to what some seem to
    believe, there aren’t that many whiskies in this style anymore that are
    both as superb AND significantly cheaper in my opinion. Unless you’re
    good at self-persuasion… Or manage to unearth some great oldies here and
    there. Sob sob sob… SGP:457 - 95 points.


  35. getz did not rate this whisky Expert Junior

    Port Ellen 32 Year Old 12th Annual Release Single Malt Scotch 52.4% ABV. Islay whisky from Scotland, Distillery bottling American & European oak cask matured

  36. Alex scored this whisky 93 points Connoisseur

    Sampled this one at Whisky Live 2013 Shanghai:

    shy nose, but wonderful taste with loads of almonds and marzipan embedded in beautiful peat smoke, though the smoke level is low, very subtle. Altogether it`s a beautiful, very complex and very classic style dram. Very elegant. Take your time, it deserves it well. 

  37. cavalier66 scored this whisky 95 points Expert Senior

    Super super complex.  I was taken by the waxiness to add to the fruit (roasted lemons?), salt and peat. And some pepper - almost Taliskerian in nature.  The flavours are beautifully balanced, and subtle just as a 32 year old Islay should be. 

    It is a truly wonderful dram - but I paid £35 for a 3 cl sample, and it is hard to justify that price except for very special occasions.  Anyway - it`ll only get more expensive still so now`s the time to try it if you want it.

  38. Kainen scored this whisky 92 points Expert Senior

    IMHO there are a lot of IBs that are better than this for a fraction of the price. This is still a wonderful dram with everything you`d expect from a Port Ellen. Just overpriced.

  39. tomy63 scored this whisky 93 points Expert Senior

    Very nice version, superb entry of mouth, but a little less finesse than the 10th release.
    • Nose
      first powerful, very marked by iodine, shellfish, algae, quite mineral, not very expressive. But it's better with a few drops of water, a lot of lemon now, a little vanilla, slightly medicinal.
    • Taste
      lots of spices (pepper especially), almost a bit too much, salty explosion at the mouth, still seashells, vanilla, lots of lemon, a little bit of apple peels but less than in many Port Ellen. Slightly sweet, not extremely peaty, a little rubber and tar. Good power, very well integrated alcohol.
    • Finish
      very long, pepper, salt, lemon, light peat.

  40. Ras Mazunga scored this whisky 93 points Super Administrator

    The nose is a bit (too) weak but the fantastic taste compensates for that. Next to the usual lemon notes there are some red fruits appaering because of the old age probably. Anyway, nice wood influence imho.
    I`ll give this one the benefit of the doubt by rating it 93.

  41. Sonett scored this whisky 90 points Connoisseur

    As with all of the previous releases, a very tasty and nice dram. However, this time the cost did not match what you received in the bottle. Over the last year I have tried several PE's from independent bottlers at almost a third of the price but with the same or higher quality. Never the less it gets a good scoring
    • Nose
      The nose is a bit on the weak side, it comes with coastal influences, light peat and smoke, there are also a light nose of barrel (oak). When really concentrating your senses you will also find some herbs, hay and vanilla but all is very fine and soft. Not at all as impressive as most of the earlier releases. It becomes a bit more like ordinary PE's if you let it rest in the glass for a little while.
    • Taste
      Taste comes more as the old friend I am used to meet. Slightly salty, peat and smoke, sweet vanilla, Then increasing mild spices, drying off a bit and turning back into sweet vanilla
    • Finish
      Medium long finish in the sign of fading spices, mild and sweet vanilla and finally disappearing in a slightly bitter sweet oaky taste

  42. checkpointuk scored this whisky 93 points Connoisseur

    http://www.weinkenner.de/2012/diageo-releases-2012-port-ellen-12th-annual-release-lagavulin-21-1991-25977/ Color: pale gold

    Nose: Salty maritime notes with sweet, sticky notes
    Honey and cotton candy. Add flavors of mango, lime,
    some lemon, green apple, algae and seaweed. appeals
    from a minty perfume note.

    Taste: True entry, but on thinner
    Consistency (mouthfeel). Pfeffrig, salty spicy with maritime
    Lemon and delicately sweet-smelling smoke. Little peaty ash,
    but slightly tart, earthy (but pleasant) wood notes, with
    Vanilla flavors are highlighted.

    Finish: long and balanced. Strongly salty transition towards the finish with all the notes already in the nose
    were hinted at. Peaty and dry, slightly woody

    93 points (nose: 93 / taste: 92 / finish: 93)

  43. corbuso scored this whisky 88 points Expert Senior

    A very good Port Ellen, on the soft and mineral side, but getting slightly thin (weak) with noticeable woody influence in the finish. I enjoyed the 10th and 11th better (more intense and less woody). 

  44. granella2003 scored this whisky 95 points Connoisseur

    Overall: Not the best Port Ellen Special
    Release, that's for sure. I was about to write this off as a bit of a duffer,
    until our good friend Stuart Robson from Connosr/Whisky
    Marketplace handed me his glass, which he'd been nursing for a good 20
    minutes and bang- there were the classic notes - tangerines, chamois leather
    and creamy vanilla/fondant. The bottom line is that this isn't a duff whisky,
    by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to previous releases, it is a
    challenge. It doesn't deliver straight away and when it does deliver, the
    qualities are only a shadow of last year's release. Not one on my list of
    essential purchases.

    from http://caskstrength.blogspot.it/
    • Nose
      Extremely coastal on the first
      nosing. Crab pots, old trawler rope and iodine, blend into some subtle vanilla,
      wet hay and a very light smoke - off the bat, you'd be hard pressed to think
      this was a Port Ellen. The nose is very closed to begin with, giving up only
      hints of what is potentially on offer. With water, fresh cherries, more vanilla,
      some orange blossom and a touch of blackberry cordial.
    • Taste

      This is where the whisky falls down
      unfortunately. Initially, very dry and woody, with a sooty hit and blast of
      brine. The smoke starts to emerge, but where are all the wonderful chamois/jammy
      notes of old? With water, the fruit starts to creep out of its shell, but it
      needs coaxing gently. 
    • Finish
      Very dry and woody

  45. Alex scored this whisky 93 points Connoisseur

    Today, Whiskyfun released their tasting notes for this "fabulous whisky" with a score of 95 points. http://www.whiskyfun.com/

    So the quality of this special release is as high as expected, sadly also the price (recommended retail price GBP 600).

    BTW, the 10th release of 2010, limited to same qty of bottles with same high rating costed only half when released (just two years ago!). Inflation? No, just the fruits of the golden whisky age.

  46. Alex scored this whisky 93 points Connoisseur

    Port Ellen 32 Year Old
    Twelfth of a very

    limited series of annual releases. From refill American Oak and refill European

    Oak casks filled in 1979. Limited to 2964 bottles and bottled at a cask strength

    of 52.5% ABV. RRP £600




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