Two 13 year old Port Charlotte's today, a mixture of cask types but both from respected IB's including Master of Malt's own bottling range.
Dramfool 52nd Release Port Charlotte Rum Cask
This is a 2009 Port Charlotte that spent its life in Rum barrel before being bottled at 13yo in 2022. 211 bottles were released.
Initial citrus notes of lemon and orange zest, sour candies and mellow yet prominent wafts of peat smoke in the background. There's a nice salinity running through the nose, salty and sweet popcorn, vegetal earthiness and malted grains. After a little air we're finding some of those rum cask notes appearing, a little tropical pineapple, mango, ginger and cinnamon spice. We're impressed at how well integrated the alcohol is on the nose considering the whopping 61% ABV.
Sweet cane sugar, freshly grated ginger, a little biscuit too. There's a lovely candied orange peel note alongside more of an earthy bonfire-like peat. The palate switches between sweetness and dryness as you swirl the spirit around your mouth, going into a long finish with oak spices, more essences of orange, honey and slightly charred dried wood. We're finding a good mouthfeel with a silky, creamy texture and a hint of salinity coming slightly later on. The alcohol is reasonably prominent on the palate but the dram still has good balance.
Nose (with water)
We're finding a mixture of sweeter vanilla wood aromas mixing with charred twigs and ashy peat. The biscuitiness has morphed into a cakeiness instead, with the tropical rum cask aromas now reminding us of a pineapple upside down cake. We're still finding some of that salt and earthiness in the background too.
Palate (with water)
The initial sweetness we found on the undiluted palate has been amped up another notch, and carries on throughout the rest of the palate, balancing nicely with orange and lemon citrus flavours. The peat takes on more of a supporting role, less earthiness but more of a background smoke adding an additional dimension of flavour. The finish takes on more of this earthiness and retains a good length.
Another very good cask from Dramfool. We were getting less rum cask influence than we initially expected, but what we can detect works nicely with the spirit rather than overpowering it. There's a fair bit of complexity here for a 13 year old whisky, especially one at such high ABV. Our only criticism is with the slightly drying and woody finish, but overall this is a solid dram. We'd recommend adding a little water as, even though it's perfectly drinkable at 61%, water gives it a bit more roundness and balance.
Port Charlotte 13 Year Old 2004 (Master of Malt)
This is a 2004 Port Charlotte that spent its life in combination of ex-burgundy, ex-sauternes, and ex-bourbon casks. Only 43 bottles were released.
Classic ashy peat we find a lot in port Charlotte. Brown butter, vanilla sponge cake, wet earth, dried apricots and a hint of pineapple too. After a little air we’re finding pastel de natas, Sicilian sugar caramelised nuts and a light salinity in the background. There’s a hint of charred wood too. An endearing nose that gets us excited for the palate.
The palate begins with sweet peat, earthy and ashy. The peat is powerful, but looking past it we’re finding orange rind, lemongrass and coriander seed. There’s a nice spice here, it’s not too hot but more aromatic. The mouthfeel is good, oily and mouth coating with citrus, peppercorns and biscoff. After some air we’re finding a nuttiness, roasted peanuts and a little hazelnut too. It has a long finish with burnt toffee, vegetal peat and fudge.
Nose (with water)
Water brings out a more spiritous side, along with a little more of that vanilla sponge cake. It’s creamier than before, a little banana bread with walnuts. The peat has dimmed a little, its still present but it’s not as punchy as before. There’s also a little more salinity than before.
Palate (with water)
We’re finding more citrus now, lemon pepper spice mix with a little cardamom mixed in. The oily mouthfeel is slightly more pronounced, it’s like the oils have split from the added water. Overall it feels fresher but ends with a little more bitter oak and dry peat.
An interesting mix of aromas and flavours, maintaining the port Charlotte character. You don’t really think about the age here, 13 years old but could pass for something older quite easily. We prefer it without water, the dilution doesn’t add anything for us and can remove some of the more complex aspects of the whisky. It’s not cheap, but it is good.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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