Port Charlotte 18 Year Old & Jim McEwan Signature Collection 8.2 Port Charlotte cask #2124


A couple of heavy hitters to kick the week off, including the oldest official release of Port Charlotte and a younger expression from Dramfool's Jim McEwan collection.

Port Charlotte 18 Year Old

Region: Islay

ABV: 54.3%

Price: £175.00

Port Charlotte 18 is a mix of 74% refill sherry casks, and 26% refill French oak wine casks all distilled in 2004. 6,000 bottles were released.

Nose

The nose opens with a prominent ashy peat smoke that we always associate with Port Charlotte, along with wet pebbles, sea spray and Maldon sea salt… It has a very strong maritime quality. There’s also prunes, tobacco and some date sweetness too. The alcohol is in good balance here, there’s a hint of dusty alcohol in the background but it’s mostly peat smoke, maple cured bacon and light brown sugar coming through. Time and air brings out some coffee grinds, red currants and some crushed strawberries too.

Palate

The palate opens with boiled sweeties, orange and strawberry predominantly, lots of upfront sweetness, synthetic in a way, alongside ashy peat flavours and burnt twigs. There’s a lot of wine character here, red grapes, cherry cola and marzipan. There’s burnt marshmallows, sweet biscuits and vanilla buttercream. The mouthfeel is really quite nice, silky and oily, not the most impressive or viscous texture we’ve had but pleasing nonetheless. The finish lingers on for a while with a delicate balance of wood, smoke, dried fruits and spice all intermingling.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose has a pickle juice-like quality coming through, mixed with the same ashy smoke and saltwater. There’s more of the sweeter meat notes, but cooked on a dirty barbecue. Still a great alcohol balance with some sweet caramel and fudge appearing.

Palate (with water)

The reduce palate loses some of the silky mouthfeel, being replaced with a more greasy/oily texture.. not something we’ve experienced before. Alongside this, the finish and alcohol balance are maintained, but the peat has mellowed a little. It’s almost like squash (or diluting juice as we call it up in Scotland)… a little watery fruit juice, but still super tasty.

Conclusion

Port Charlotte seems to age very well, maintaining a rich smokiness whilst balancing delicate fruit and wood aromas and flavours. This 18 year old is really quite good, a little too wine-forward in places but eminently quaffable in so many ways. We’re excited to see some more aged PC expressions in the future, but are very happy having picked up a bottle of this blind

Score: 8/10

Value

We’d have like to have seen this priced closer to the Laddie 18 which in our opinion is already a little pricey, but are happy at least it’s cask strength.


Jim McEwan Signature Collection 8.2 Port Charlotte cask #2124

Region: Islay

ABV: 60.9%

Price: £280.00

Distilled on 5th June 2011, this whisky spent its life maturing in a 1st fill bourbon cask from an unknown American distillery, and was bottled at 12 years old. 175 bottles were released.

Nose

The nose has a combination of antiseptic wipes and fabric softener.. interesting. As we go back we get more medicinal notes, rubber gloves, bandages and a little turpentine too. Going back and there’s some lemon balm, menthol chews, moving into runny honey, discarded bacon fat and a light peat smoke, not the usual style of Port Charlotte that we have experienced. It’s considerably less sweet than we expected, given the first fill bourbon cask.

Palate

The palate begins with a creamy mouthfeel, with lots of peat upfront. We’re back to that ashy peat smoke that we expect from the Port Charlotte spirit. There’s considerable amounts of spirit character here, barley sugars, cereals and biscuit notes take over the palate. The ABV is in good balance, it’s punchy but the power of the peat dominates the palate (in a good way). The finish lingers on for a good while, engulfing the mouth in smoke, vanilla cream and light oak spice.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose has menthol and herbal notes up front.. mint, basil and thyme, mixed in with a sprinkling of caster sugar and antiseptic. It’s still got a lot of those medicinal notes, alongside a bit more sweetness than was detected on the unreduced nose.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate has a slightly reduced mouthfeel, but has more of that bourbon cask influence appearing. The peat is still punchy and in your face, dirty, earthy and slightly salty now, tarry ropes and peppermint chewing gum. The finish maintains its reasonable length with a bit of oak spice and peat lingering on.

Conclusion

An interesting expression of Port Charlotte, it’s lacks the refinement of some aged PC’s we’ve tried, but is an untamed, bold and unabashed peat monster. It lacks some of the sweetness we’d expect from 12 years in a first fill bourbon barrel, but there’s plenty going on to keep you interested. Not for everyone but we’d give it an 8/10, being big fans of monstrous peaty drams.

Score: 8/10

Value

 You don’t need us to tell you that these aren’t great value. If you’re buying these it’s for the pedigree of the whisky.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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