Port Charlotte 8yo 2007/2018 “CC:01” (57.8%, OB, Heavily Peated, Cognac Casks, 18/006, 2018)

Those of you who have checked the title meticulously will have a question. How can this be 8yo (so stated on the bottle), when this is distilled in 2007 (so stated on the bottle) and bottled in 2018 (so stated on the bottle)? Has it been transferred into glass after 8 years or as often happens, the Whisky in the bottle is (and is allowed to be) older than the stated age. We may never know. This expression is abbreviated as CC:01, meaning that this is the first (01) release of Whisky, fully matured in Cognac Casks (CC). I’m sure there will be more of these abbreviations reviewed on these pages in the foreseeable future.

Finally, this is one of those bottles which I almost missed reviewing before it is gone. One of those bottles I reach for easily, despite the high ABV. One of those bottles I believe to have reviewed earlier already, even being surprised I can’t find the review on these pages. So from the last drops in the bottle, here it goes.

Color: Gold

Nose: Bonfire, spicy wood, creamy but not really vanilla like. Big. Paper and smoke. More bonfire. Beautiful, perfumy smoke notes. Wonderful smelling Malt this is. Hints of medium sweet Rhum Agricole. (J.M style). Next leafy, autumn garden. Extremely well balanced and very appetizing. All just fits together so well. Some breaths of fresh air, bonfire smoke next, with a luxury feel to it. And this nice lazy hidden sweeter and fruitier note (lime juice). Lazy, because it lets me know its there, but allows me to enjoy the other notes first. Soft yet spicy wood. In no way harsh. Creamy, leafy with mocha. It keeps developing. Black tea. Dry, old, dusty oak. Hints of raspberry ice-cream, the vanilla notes emerge after all just before the first notes of pencil shavings. Good one, I love it. No it’s not finished yet. Notes of well aged Calvados now. Will it ever end? Let me just say, nothing really Cognac-y or winey or peaty. Capiche?

Taste: Spicy and sweet on entry. Skip that last remark though, maybe there is some Cognac to it after all. Quite hot going down. Some indistinct fruity notes come next, on top of dry oaky notes. Both are on top of each other, so a bit less well integrated, or maybe the cement between the bricks is missing. Sweetish yellow fruits, partly dried, combined with a nice ashy note and maybe some old licorice. Notes of bitter oak towards the finish and a bit of waxiness emerges. See Lagavulin, this is younger than your 10yo and no milky, too young tasting Whisky here. Nice restrained smoke. Earthy or maybe grounded is a better word. Slightly less balanced than the nose, and also less beautiful, but still very good nevertheless. Fairly long finish, but after that it all went down, leaving just a medium amount for the aftertaste.

Well, what can I say, me likey. It didn’t take me all that long to buy me another one of these. Very good Port Charlotte. I Hope Bruichladdich will do more Cognac Casks in the future (and release them, obviously).

Points: 88


Port Charlotte 10yo (46%, OB, 13/153)

Many people like Springbank very much and some of those people, the likes of bloggers and vloggers and die-hard aficionados, call out to other distilleries to look more at Springbank as an example how they feel things have to be done. In that respect, hiding in plain sight is Bruichladdich, who are doing things like Springbank but in their own way. For one they have multiple brands: Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore and more interestingly they are doing the “Local Barley” thing as well (f.i  the Bere Barley and Islay Barley bottlings). Both series contain rather young Whiskies, which are surprisingly good. Personally, even more exiting is the batch variation, which I find, adds to the adventure in Whisky, although I don’t think they change the composition as much as Springbank between batches. They even code like Springbank (here: 13/153). The first official Port Charlotte 10yo was bottled in 2012, so this is not the first batch of the first release, but it is still the first release, since in 2016 an official second release came out bottled at 50% ABV.

Color: Light gold.

Nose: Nice fresh peat, and dare I say it has a Sherried note? Honest and slightly sweet. Full-on aroma. Slightly sweaty and floral at the same time. Soft as well. Dusty. Clay and finger paint. Pencil eraser. Medicinal. Cold gravy. For me, very special stuff with quite some unusual markers. This big synergetic aroma easily overpowers the soft peat. Maybe not overpowers, but it sure works well in tandem with it. Nice development and evolution of the nose. Every sniff seems different from the last, unless you are sniffing continuously. Appetizing stuff.

Taste: Peat, wood and some fruit in the background. The fruit shows quite some acidity. Starts out sweet, caramel, toffee, but that isn’t here to stay. Well, the aromas stay but the sweetness retreats a bit. Licorice wood. More (different kinds of) licorice combined with milk chocolate mousse. Some soap in my toffee now, as well as some mints (mint candy). Is this the taste of the floral part? Where the nose had a big aromatic presence, the body of this Whisky isn’t as big. Alas the taste cannot keep up with the nose, but the potential is there. If the quality of any of the younger distillates is anything to go by I’m predicting the future of the 10yo to be a bright one. Just compare it to, the sweeter by the batch, offerings of Laphroaig and Ardbeg 10yo’s.

Yes even by today’s standard, 40 ppm phenols is heavily peated, even though by now we are used to the insane peating levels of Octomore, where 167 ppm is just the start.

Bruichladdich might not be the most original distillery around, although Octomore sure is as original as it gets, but it might very well be the most progressive of the bunch today. Springbank is a main stay for me and I guess Bruichladdich can be added to that list now as well. Don’t worry, these two aren’t the only ones on that list. Not by a long shot.

Points: 86

Port Charlotte 7yo 2001/2008 PC7 “Sin An Doigh Ileach” (61%, OB, 24.000 bottles)

Since 2006 with the release of PC5, once a year a PC edition is released. All distilled in the first year of distillation. As we know by now, the first distillation of Port Charlotte was done on the 29th of May 2001. In 2007 we saw the release of PC6 and in 2008 we saw the release of PC7, which we’ll review here. At this moment, I don’t have any more PC editions around, but it would be nice to follow the evolution of PC’s someday…

Port Charlotte PC7Color: Full gold.

Nose: Funky and meaty. Can this be Sherry influence? Pudding. Pencil shavings and mild fatty peat. Very creamy with small hints of banana. Nice interaction between the wood and vanilla. Cold black tea. Perfumed tea mixed with breaths of fresh air. Hints of sweetish yellow fruit yoghurt, what? Peach, passion fruit & maracuja. Heaps and heaps of aroma carried by a menthol/mint concoction. Hints of, wood, hay, ashes and again licorice like the An Turas Mor I reviewed last. Again good stuff to nose.

Taste: Powerful ABV yet not as warming as the An Turas Mor. It’s ABV does dry out the throat a bit. Creamy. It’s all there again. Lets call this vanilla pudding, shall we? Vanilla pudding with salt and pepper, that is. The way the peat comes across in Port Charlottes, makes them very tasty. Aloe Vera lemonade and hints of florality. Nicely integrated wood. Here we have some more wood to function as a backbone. Vegetal notes whiff in and out and the wood is somewhat floral. Slightly salty. Latex paint and mocha. Hardly any bitterness at all. Port Charlotte is growing more and more complex. Still its quite youthful and that shows in the weaker finish compared to other Islay Whiskies. But don’t worry, there is a lot going on before the finish.

Really nice distillate Port Charlotte. Well made stuff.

Points: 88

Port Charlotte “An Turas Mor” (46%, OB, American Oak Casks)

In 2000 Murray McDavid bought Bruichladdich for £6.500.000 (from Jim Beam, current owners of Bowmore and Laphroaig). After acquiring the distillery guess what was the first distillate made? Yes! Port Charlotte, not the unpeated Bruichladdich itself. The guys behind Murray McDavid are no fools. We all know Mark and Jim to be very shrewd guys. So the first stuff they wanted to make with their new distillery was peated Whisky. On the 29th of May 2001, the first Port Charlotte was made. The first Bruichladdich under new ownership was somewhat later distilled in July. (2001 which was also the year the first newly bottled Bruichladdich was released; the 10yo I just reviewed, the 15yo and the 20yo). Finally on the 23rd of October 2002 the first Octomore was distilled.

Port Charlotte "An Turas Mor" (46%, OB, American Oak Casks)Color: Pale gold.

Nose: Mild, fatty vegetal peat, with butter and vanilla, pepper and salt. It smells like lavas was one of the plants that makes up the peat. Quite soft and unobtrusive. Some smoke and a tiny hint of burnt plastic and traces of soap. Sappy licorice twig. Wood lying around in the forest. Fresh (air) and un-complex. Dry kippers with hints of tar. Dusty vanilla and some paper. Nice to smell. The nose is worth the price of admission.

Taste: Sweet and peat. Sugar water with slightly bitter peat. Sweet licorice and black and white powder (yes, licorice again). Slightly warming. Licorice and licorice twig. Very tasty (the sweetness helps it along), but not very complex, but who cares when it’s so drinkable. Reduced, brooding peat that resembles coffee a bit. After a decent body, comes alas a sort of weak finish. A finish full of paper, barley, hints of soap and sweet licorice, but I guess we can blame its youth for that.

Lots of young Whisky is noticeable in An Turas Mor, but it shows a lot of potential though. This will become a great peated Islay Whisky when it becomes of age. I feel that Port Charlotte is a sweet Whisky that can be high on aroma, but struggles a bit with its length when it’s young. Highly drinkable, likeable and definitely worth its money. Get it, it’s not as expensive as the PC’s.

Points: 84