For the heavily peated whisky lovers, we're looking at two recent Port Charlotte releases from Bruichladdich distillery.
Port Charlotte 2012 SC:01
SC:01 was distilled in 2012 from 100% Islay grown Concerto, Propino, Publican and Oxbridge barley varieties. It was peated to 40 ppm, and matured in sherry butts that were re-casked into first fill Sauternes casks, Second fill American whiskey barrels that were re-casked into second-fill Sauternes casks, and a combination of first and second fill American whiskey barrels re-casked into first fill Sauternes casks.
Apricots, a slight cheese-like note... cheddar perhaps? Light vanilla cream biscuits, a hint of basil, all backed up with a lovely punchy peat smoke. The peat has an ashy quality to it, charcoal and soot. It's a very fragrant nose despite the heavy peat, and the alcohol feels present but very well integrated. Going back after some air, we're finding seaweed, hints of marzipan, honey and the faintest hint of orange essence.
A peppery start, freshly cracked black peppercorns, ginger, saltwater, dry earth, burnt coffee grounds. It's a powerful dram, and the alcohol is a lot more pronounced than it was on the nose. We're also finding some dry roasted peanuts, a slight sour mash flavour and stewed pears at the beginning of the palate. The whisky has a nice, oily texture and the finish lingers for a good length of time, but is predominantly more bitter, earthy, oak flavours.
Nose (with water)
Water brings out a wafer cone sweetness on the nose, some toffee, honey and dates. We're finding more fruit - apples, pears, a little tangerine and peach. Water mellows the peat slightly, but it's most definitely still there.
Palate (with water)
Dilution draws out more sweetness, dates, toffee, honey, vanilla and sugar coated almonds. The pepperiness and heavy peat flavours are brought more in line, and we're finding some more zingy citrus taking their place. There's still a lovely ashy peat here providing great depth and complexity to the dram.
A lovely example of Port Charlotte that blends the three cask types together in harmony. The palate has slightly too much alcohol bite, and ends slightly too bitter and earthy for us, however it's still a great whisky. It might be slightly too pricey at just shy of £100 for a 9 year old, but you won't be disappointed if you choose to pick up a bottle.
Port Charlotte Valinch VCG:02
Price: £75.00 (500ml)
Distilled 1st of April 2009 and bottled 2nd of June 2022, VCG:02 was matured in a 2nd fill Voignier cask. 411 bottles were made available exclusively at the distillery shop.
Initial notes of copper, acidic orange, sea spray, wet tree bark and plums. Behind this there's a big punch of sooty, ashy peat smoke. We're also finding a hint of chlorine, icing sugar and ground ginger. The 62% ABV doesn't come through as punchy on the nose as expected, and it's actually quite easy to get your nose deep into the glass without too much burn from the alcohol.
Warming oak spices... cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg hit us initially, moving into a sweeter grape must, grappa and fresh lime juice. The peat sneaks up on you towards the finish, likely the additional age mellowing it somewhat. The peat still has a punch though, and we're finding that campfire/burning twig-like smoke. The mouthfeel is nice, not super viscous but enough to coat the mouth, and the finish lasts for a fair while with more of those richer oak spices lingering on. The alcohol has a bit of a hit, but nowhere near what we were expecting for 62%.
Nose (with water)
More citrus coming through now, sour with lime, orange and a rusted metal-like aroma. The peat is lighter and the dram overall feels a little thinner now.. we'd recommend avoiding the water if you liked the original nose.
Palate (with water)
Sweetened lemons and limes, wet soil and leaves, vanilla essence, overripe banana, some biscuit notes too. The oak spices have calmed, giving more flavour than spice, but the finish now ends with a bitter burnt oak note.
An interesting valinch, we weren't enamoured by the nose but the palate brought the dram to life for us. We found the balance and complexity on the palate really impressive. Again, not our favourite Port Charlotte, but it's still good quality and interesting. We'll go with 7.5/10
- 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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