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Port Ellen Gemini: Exclusive Whisky Set Marks Reopening

The fabled Islay distillery is preparing to restart operations 40 years after its closure.

By Alex Martin

Port Ellen, the legendary whisky distillery on the Scottish island of Islay, is preparing to reopen its doors this spring following a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, a full 40 years after it fell silent. To mark the occasion, Diageo has announced a set of ultra-exclusive Scotch whiskies, Gemini, that will sit at the heart of an exclusive new guest experience at the Port Ellen distillery.

The Gemini collection is formed of a 44-year-old whisky taken from three European oak casks. It’s the oldest whisky ever released under the Port Ellen name and with just 274 sets, one of the rarest as well.

To make this whisky fit for the grand reopening, master blender Craig Wilson split it into two different casks for the final years of its maturation. By placing it in two different cask types, one whisky has become two, each with a distinct flavor profile.

[See also: Brora Reopens Doors to the Past, Ready for the Future]

Port Ellen Gemini Original went into European oak butts, a traditional practice of the distillery in its heyday. This gives it the classic Port Ellen style – sweet, salty and smoky – that has seen it become a favorite among connoisseurs and collectors.

Port Ellen Gemini Remnant is far more experimental. That was placed in an original Port Ellen remnant cask, which is used to quality check the newmake spirit after a filling run. The remnant cask would have touched some of the distillery’s most treasured malts during its lifetime. Unappreciated in its own time, the remanent cask symbolizes Port Ellen, which only became highly valued after its closure. By restoring and reasoning it, that forgotten cask plays a vital role, giving this whisky a unique flavor profile.

Elite Traveler will be at the grand reopening of the distillery in February and will be among the first to try both expressions. We’ll bring you our notes shortly after.

Wilson said: “Marking the return of this iconic distillery, and a new light in its future, Port Ellen Gemini is a true taste of a legend reborn – a never before seen release of two unique and priceless expressions of a much-revered whisky, inspired by our rarest cask.”

[See also: Behind the Scenes: The Distillers’ One of One Whisky Auction]

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He continued to say: “Port Ellen Gemini invites whisky connoisseurs to compare and contrast a twin pair of 1978 Scotch whiskies, shared in its original form and finished expression. The finish is nothing short of historical: an extraordinary remnant cask that cradled three decades of Port Ellen spirit, now restored and revived, a worthy touch to this rare Scotch. It is a fitting tribute to the past and future as Port Ellen returns once again.”

At £45,000 (approx $57,000), Port Ellen Gemini will only be available to a select few. While there are 274 sets available, presumably the distillery will retain a large portion for its upcoming exclusive experience, making it even more elusive.

Those interested in owning Port Ellen Gemini can register here

[See also: This May be the Most Exclusive Whisky Tour in the World]

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