Tag Archive: Port Charlotte


Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte: OLC: 01 – 2010 (Scotland Islay Single Malt Whisky: 55.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold, with a mix of slow puckering and a few fast streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Milk chocolate. Medicinal. Hints of black forest gateaux. Pencil shavings. Dry peat smoke. Menthol to mint. Peppercorns. Gin. Water adds so much more peat smoke. Dry white wine. Spiced cherries. Moss.

Body: Strong alcohol. Chocolate cake. Dry peat. Tart green and red grapes. Water adds sweet red grapes and spicy red grapes. Paprika. Black cherry. Tons of peat. More water adds hints of raspberry yogurt hard chunks. Strawberry crème.

Finish: Dry. Dried beef slices. Smoke. Bitter cocoa. Water adds more beef to well done beef steak character. Sweet chilli. Caramel. Strawberry yogurt touch. Peppercorns.

Conclusion: So, cards on the table, this is amazing. Ok, now with that said, let’s be harsh about this whisky first.

Deep breath. While this is good neat, unsurprisingly at over 50% abv, it is a tad burning. It means that neat it is predominantly a more medicinal, harsh and dry peat kind of thing. Punchy, but not showing any more than hints of the range that you would expect this to have based on its oak journey.

Yes, that mild criticism was me trying to be harsh to this. Did I mention I adore it?

A little water smooths it out, which somehow makes the peat much bigger, more booming and less dry. Hey, as a peat fan I am not complaining. It also managed to let a lot of the subtleties from the varied ageing come out to play, and this is where things get fun.

The chocolate, almost black-forest gateaux like, character hinted at when it was neat, now is rich, dark backing for the peat. The medicinal character from the alcohol is gone, leaving a still quite dry body but now giving a real mix of sweet cake, heavy peat and smoke and dried meat that is gorgeous.

It is dark, heavy, peaty but no longer harsh. It shows its Islay character but in far smoother ways than, say, Ardbeg or Laphroaig would do, but without compromising on the smokey character.

If you add more water then it breaks the dry character, making for an oily sheen and a mossy, Island style wet rocks character. During this time more and more grapes both red and white, sour, sweet and spiced all come out. So much now showing from its many barrel ageing influence.

So, peat laden, dark and heavy, but everything else can be from sweet gateaux or wine styled to moss and oily depending on the level of water play. Though at each level the other elements are hinted at, and giving fainter backing notes. There is so much to examine here.

With just enough water this becomes the perfect match of dessert and Islay, with so many other takes available with other amounts of water.

Come get it.

Background: Been meaning to grab a Port Charlotte bottle for a while. It is the heavily peated take on the normally unpeated Bruichladdich. Not to be confused with the very, very heavily peated take that is Octomore. I’ve tried a bunch of Port Charlotte expressions over the years, but never bought a bottle. Until now. So now I have, from the ever reliable Independent Spirit. A lot going on with this one, from the bottle it is part of the “Cask Exploration Series” and has been aged in a mix of Bourbon, Vin Doux Naturel and Syrah casks then moved for the last 18 months to oloroso casks. I cannot find what OLC means from a quick google, if you know, please let me know. Wanted big booming dark music for this, so went with Anathema: The Silent Enigma.

Elements Of Islay: Pi 6 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky:7 Year: 55.3% ABV)

Visual: Very light, clear gold. Slow thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sooty peat. Charred oak. Clean. Beef slices. Water makes smoother.

Body: Honey. Thick. Oily. Soot. Malt chocolate. Chilli seeds. Water adds beef slices. Ginger and more chilli seed. Buttery. Nut oils. Cleanly medicinal.

Finish: Soot. Vanilla. Nut oils. Oily. Water adds chilli seeds. More alcohol burn. Buttery. Medicinal.

Conclusion: This is a sooty, oily whisky. Initially though it comes across as sweet and honeyed on those early sips, but it quickly moves beyond that to become thing with oily, sooty thickness. Despite that it somehow manages to keep a slightly clean medicinal character as a base.

It feels very much every inch the Islay, rocking as it is the soot and the medicinal character. Admittedly it has less salty and meaty than usual, but still it weighs just enough of that to be identifiable. It is a very clean dram up front, ending up instead as a thick sooty and gritty dram on the way out.

Water brings out a bit of heat to it. With more of the high alcohol being evident, and a mix of chilli seeds and ginger warmth. It feels big and thick, mouth coating and warm.

It is good, but for the price tag it does not stand out as a special one. It is a clean and polished example of the Islay, with a bit of sooty grittiness at the end to pep it up. That works well, but doesn’t push the limits of what can be done with a good whisky.

Very nice still, slightly buttery as well, something that seems to be a trend at the uber whisky tasting tonight. If I had to pick an element that stands out it is more oily than the norm considering how clean the rest of the dram is – so if you want that oilier take on clean medicine this may catch your eye. Otherwise I would say the far cheaper Laphraog Quarter Cask is still the way to go for a good Islay drop. This is nice but not stand out

Background: 400th Whisky Tasting Note! I actually had something special set aside for no 400, but since it fell on the final entry of an Uber whisky tasting it seemed rude to not go with this one instead. Soooo … Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Elements of Islay do slightly smaller than normal, 50cl independent bottles of Islay whisky with the faux chemical letter identifying the distillery. In this case Pi is Port Charlotte. Hey don’t ask me, I didn’t pick it. Port Charlotte is itself a heavily peated take on Bruichladdich. A quick google tells me this was aged in a mix of three bourbon barrels. Should be interesting.

The Peat Project

Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte: Peat Project (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: No age Statement: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very light barley grain.

Viscosity: Quite thick fast streaks.

Nose: Dried beef slices. Peat. Barley. Honey. Sea salt wet rocks. Sulphur.

Body: Smooth. Light lime. Peat. Wet bogs and seaweed. Honey. Barley cakes. Toffee. Salt. Water adds sweeter custard and vanilla to the peat and lime.

Finish: Smoke. Broth. Lime sorbet. Toffee. Water makes smoke over vanilla toffee. Malt chocolate. Dry at the end.

Conclusion: Peaty whisky is rarely this smooth, nor this fruity. From the moment you see the very clear spirit you know something is going to be different here, then when the first light touch on the tongue doesn’t hint at the peat, instead giving lime in a sorbet fashion playing there. Soon enough though the peat and smoke rises within and gives it its namesake.

This is so very unusual, that sharp citrus and never truly medicinal despite the peat and island salt rocks brought in amongst beef broth flavours. There is a lightness of character that belies the dryness that peat can often bring. This is whisky that feels deceptive in the turns it takes, keeping you on your toes for what is coming next. It is a whisky where you can appreciate it best if you come to it already loving the range of whisky that exist, as it runs the gamut, light and sweet early on, then heavily peaty, then drying. It really works the range, never really committing to a cause or style.

By the end of the whisky you finally get those starting elements of the medicinal nature coming to the fore, though as said, it never fully commits. It is an interesting whisky, it never reaches the heights of flavour of the more dedicated Islay style whiskies like the amazing Laguvulin, but instead takes you on a much wider journey. Very enjoyable.

Background: Port Charlotte, the other Bruichladdich. This time apparently an attempt to discover what the old days peated Bruichladdich would have tasted like. Now I’ve tried Octomore which is what if Bruichladdich was insanely peated, and I enjoyed that, so when I saw this in Brewdog Bristol I decided to give it a try. Yes Brewdog Bristol again, leave me alone.

Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte: An Turas Mor (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: no age statement: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold.

Viscosity:  A lot of fast thin streaks.

Nose:  Peat and smoke.  Light dried beef jerky.  Campfire ash.  Dry pomegranates.  Water makes more broth like. Beef crisps.  Aniseed and peppercorn.

Body: Burnt and peated. Touch of sweet syrup below that. Charred thin beef slice. Dried apricot, pomegranate and vanilla cream. Water makes sweeter and the meat and peat roils in.

Finish: Dry. Chocolate and smoke. Slightly medicinal dryness.  Light charring. Dried peach slices. Water makes more chocolate and smoke.

Conclusion: I’ve played with a few whiskys recently that turned out to be very dry and peaty and a few of them have turned out a bit too mouth drying and antiseptic for me. Oft the ones with higher alcohol content exacerbating the effect.

On first sip I thought this one was going to be another of those. The dry peat and medicinal style is distinctly present, but backed up with light fruit and sweetness.  Then a few meagre drips of water take that edge off balancing it up just right.

Smoke on the nose, sweet and peat then into fantastic dryness and chocolate which gives great mouth freshness. It is still dry, even the fruit feels like dried fruit. The added flavour range does not reduce the distinctive style.

Near the end of the drink the alcohol becomes tongue numbing in intensity, even with the water and in but a single measure.  It is possible the whisky would have benefited from a touch more water but since I enjoyed the flavour balance so much I did not want to risk ruining it.  As is it has an impressively bracing style. If you have access to a full bottle I would advise taking some time to play with it as I’m fairly sure it will have a better range than I found.

The fruit to kick balance is impressive and I really want to return to it at some point to experiment more. A very impressive dry peat whisky with good complexity for the punch.

Background: An Turas Mor is apparently Gaelic for Great Journey. This is best I know the only multi vintage version of Port Charlotte with the rest being yearly releases of the evolving spirit. Port Charlotte is the name of the peated version of the Bruichladdich and has a good reputation in the whisky world. Found at the “Tasting Rooms” I just had to give it try.

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