Two Port Charlotte releases today as we look at a near impossible to nab bottle from a very well respected IB, and a more readily available OB from Bruichladdich.
Dramfool 43rd Release - Port Charlotte 2004
How does Bruce manage to get his hands on these casks? This is a 16yo that was fully matured in a first fill sherry hogshead. It's the oldest Port Charlotte we've tried, having been distilled only a few years after Bruichladdich started distillation for Port Charlotte in 2001.
Well-fired toast topped with fresh butter and Arbroath smokies, some seaweed, cherry jam, a bonfire at the beach, salted caramel, iodine and dark chocolate. A very pleasant nose with well integrated alcohol and a balance of richness, sweetness and smoke.
On the palate there’s cigarette ash, heavy peat, wholemeal bread, red berry compote, even more ash and tar. There's a lot of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper too. The sherry notes aren't coming through as prominently as we'd expected, almost being slightly overpowered by the peat smoke. The finish goes on for ... wait for it... still counting .. basically forever, and we're left with a nice salty, charred smokiness long after we've taken a sip.
Nose (with water)
On the reduced nose more dark fruits appear alongside the ever present smoke, there's an oily, buttery note that has appeared too. There's also some herbal notes of thyme and sage that sit alongside an earthy but dry muddiness. Digging a little deeper we can also get some cola and cinnamon.
Palate (with water)
Palate is still very heavy with prominent ash and peat, but the alcohol has been restrained and along with it some of the spicier pepper notes, instead showing sweeter caramel and candied lemon peel. There's also more of an overly charred meat flavour coming through, maybe some burnt char sui pork. Finish is still long and punchy with heaps of smoke and earth.
This is intense, but in a good way, The sherry has left a lasting impression, but in less of a sweet way and more of a deep, rich addition to the heavy char and peat notes of the spirit. If you're a peat fan, we think you'll fall in love with this at first sniff. Maybe a little pricey but top quality spirit and cask management results in a cracking whisky!
Onto something a little easier to get a hold of…
Port Charlotte OLC: 01
Ok, so the spirit for this 9 year old Port Charlotte was distilled in 2010 and matured in a mixture of bourbon, Syrah, and Vin Doux Naturel casks until 2018 when it was vatted and re-casked into first fill sherry hogsheads for 18 months.
On the nose there’s cranberry, treacle, yeast, cornflakes, light smoke, ash, and a costal sea breeze. Nosing it agin there’s also jam and figs. This is one we suspect you could nose all day and continue to come up with new notes.
On the palate we’re immediately getting ash and smoke. Behind the peaty notes there’s white sugar syrup, Cadbury caramel chocolate, raisins, dark chocolate, and a little salt. Finish here is reasonable length with ginger spice lingering on the palate.
Nose (with water)
Ok, with water we’re now also getting toffee, apples and coffee beans. The smoke is still there, but it’s not as prominent as it was.
Palate (with water)
Similar to the nose the peat has been subdued by water. We’re now getting sweet caramelised brown sugar, with the sherry notes really standing out along with the sweeter notes. Finish remains medium length.
If you love the port Charlotte peat we’d recommend skipping water with this one. However, if a sweeter dram is your bag then a few drops of aqua is recommended. This isn’t a bad dram, but we can’t but help feel that £90 is just too expensive for this.
- 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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