As with all of the whiskies in Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte range, this is a single malt that boasts a warm welcome familiarity and, quite simply, a wonderfully unique profile.
Uniqueness in whisky is rather scarce, so it’s no small thing to be recognized as standing out from the pack and having an instantly recognizable niche. Do I inflate Port Charlotte scores because of this? Possibly, but I don’t really think so. Unequivocally I stand behind the inherent quality of the malt. It’s an old school peat-and-smoke-heavy whisky of charm and character. The Bruichladdich spirit simply works very well with high test peat, as proven by both the Octomore range and the Port Charlottes, so it’s rather easy to get behind it.
This release is Port Charlotte come of age. We’ve watched the whisky mature gracefully through some exceptional annual cask strength releases named in simple fashion for the initials of the distillate and the age of the whisky (i.e. PC5, PC6, PC7, etc). This was a release pattern much in line with Ardbeg’s ‘Path To Peaty Maturity’ series from several years back. When Ardbeg finally reached 10 years, they celebrated with a final ‘Path’ expression called ‘Renaissance’, then strolled confidently onwards with a core range ten year old, aptly titled ‘Ten’, at 46% abv. Bruichladdich has followed that model to a ‘T’. On the heels of last year’s PC10, we were rewarded with ‘Port Charlotte 10’, an addition to the core ‘Laddie range and offered up at a respectable 46% abv. And not chill-filtered. And free of added coloring. Brilliant.
Even better though, is that Bruichladdich has managed to retain the integrity of the whisky even after bringing it down to a more manageable bottling strength. We’ve seen many times before where the true ‘oomph’ of a dram is lost when the whisky is brought down from a flavour-rich cask strength to a market savvy 40% (give or take). In the case of the PC series, those initial bottling strengths were massive, hovering in and around 60% abv. That’s a far cry from this 46%, so to see the whisky retain all of its hallmark beauty is something to be extremely grateful for. Well done, Team ‘Laddie.
As of now, January 2014, Port Charlotte is still being produced at the Bruichladdich distillery. Perhaps this will finally be the year where we really see new owners, Remy Cointreau’s, financial backing at play in helping to get the long-proposed Port Charlotte distillery up and running. Fingers crossed.
Nose: Buttery, farmy and peaty in that sort of way with which we’re now quite familiar in Port Charlotte releases. Some smoke and rubber. Creamy natural caramels…thick and awesomely gooey. Salty. Notes of Werther’s Originals. Asphalt. Maybe a distant touch of anise. Great nose for sitting on a cool, cloudy beach and watching the ocean roll in. Ideally…beside the pier in Port Charlotte itself.
Palate: Sweet smoky rubber. Elastic band and bandaid. Peaty, earthy and iodine-rich. A little sharp. Moving into Longrow territory. Very nice.
Thoughts: Port Charlotte coming of age is a beautiful thing to watch. Enjoying the hell out of this whisky’s growth and development. A neutered Port Charlotte, to be sure, (we prefer the cask strength PC series), but still a great dram bearing all the nuances of the style.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt