Bruichladdich’s new 10 yo came online a couple of years ago–the first release of 10 yo spirit distilled and matured by Mark Reynier’s team after they purchased and re-opened Bruichladdich (Reynier himself, alas, has since been pushed out with the purchase of the distillery by Remy-Cointreau). The status of that 10 yo is under a bit of a cloud at present with low availability and not much clear information about its status. I am not too worried about this as I was not quite as excited about my bottle of that whisky as a lot of people were about theirs– but that’s neither here nor there. A year after the new (unpeated) Laddie 10 appeared this 10 yo from their peated Port Charlotte line also showed up, right on schedule.
Unlike the PC5-11 (I think we’re at 11) limited releases this is not at cask strength, and not, as far as I know, the product of any exotic double maturation or vattings. It’s also a fair sight cheaper, retailing in the $50 neighbourhood in the US, which is cool to see: given the prices the experimental PC series goes for it is good to see the distillery keeping faith with customers and not charging a premium for their regular release. (For a very differently priced 10 yo from the distillery see the Octomore 10).
But all of that is moot if it isn’t very good. Let’s get to it.
Port Charlotte 10 (46%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: The peat makes itself known right away, pungent and sweet; softer notes of vanilla and cereals right below. Alas, there’s also the butyric note I got on the An Turas Mor and the Laddie 10 as well. Let’s see if it burns off. Well, it’s taking its time to go but some lemon and more ashy smoke are coming to the top as I wait. More than five minutes later the butyric note is still present but reduced; there’s more salt now too. (And the butyric note is still there an hour later.) Water makes the lemon muskier and wakes the smoke back up. It also corrals the butyric note some. The vanilla is edging into shortbread territory.
Palate: Very soft and supple mouthfeel. The first wave of peat is musky sweet, accompanied by the vanilla; and then it turns to ashy smoke, accompanied by a lot of salt. More tar on the second sip and just a bit of the lemon. With time the vanilla seems to get stronger as does the lemon and it seems much more balanced. Okay, let’s see what water does. Alas, it seems to bring the butyric note out on the palate. Otherwise, it’s much as before except with a bit more of an acidic edge.
Finish: Medium-long. The ashy smoke and salt crest and then slowly subside. The smoke is less ashy/acrid with time and the late-emerging lemon hangs around as well. The finish gets smokier with water, and it’s ashy smoke again.
Comments: That butyric note never quite goes away on the nose, which is a pity. (It is entirely possible, of course, that this is not something everyone is sensitive to, so this criticism may not be relevant to you.) Other than that this is a fine entry-level peated malt–not particularly complex, but it hits all the notes you want an entry-level peated malt to hit. I have a second sample saved to compare to my bottle of the PC 10, whenever it is that I will open it.
Rating: 84 points.
Thanks to Patrick for the sample!
The “butyric” note is interesting to me because I don’t sense it. Is it a “vomit-y” note? I tend to only get that from Jura, haha. I got some (slight) ex-sherry notes (or something other than ex-bourbon, at least) from this bottle but maybe it was all in my head.
Yeah, mildly vomity, more like sour/split milk.
Heh, funny. Same here, alas, for me it’s a note that has become a characteristic of Port Charlotte as I’ve had the association on pretty much every Port Charlotte bottling (bar a few ones that got overpowered by sherry) I’ve tried. Although, fortunately less on sour/spilt milk, and more on overly ripe/old cheese (parmeggiano, cheddar, etc).
It’s still odd though, and it doesn’t seem to be a very common association/note to pick up on though from what I’ve seen in (blind) tasting groups here. And yay for being different Port Charlotte! Now that most of the other islay distilleries have become somewhat interchangeable/indistinguishable (imo!).
There’s another Port Charlotte 10 out there that’s not called Heavily Peated. It’s over 50% I think.
Are you referring to the PC 10 in the ongoing cask strength PC series that started with PC 5?
I think so. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of it. I saw it in Hi Time Wine a few months ago.
Tro Na Lintean. There
Yes, that’s the PC 10; Tro Na Linntean is its complicated Gaelic name (all the releases in that series have had Gaelic names in addition to the numbers). It’s also heavily peated. My understanding is that all of Port Charlotte is peated to 40 ppm, which is just above or around where Laphroaig and Lagavulin are.
I’ve heard butyric in whisky reviews described like Baby vomit. I could never adapt to that taste. Some molecules for indivuals can be so intolarable. I might pass PC 10 cause I didn’t like Laddie 10. My batch had this Ashy taste. Like a gound water ash. I’ve really enjoyed their whiskies clean coal, ocean air, melon fruit and oil notes when nothing I don’t like is interferring with them.
Some people refer to it instead as the smell you get off wedges of parmesan cheese*—which might actually be more accurate. Yeah, I’m one of those who has a tough time getting this note out of my nose once I get it. It does seem as though I get it a lot in a lot of Bruichladdich’s malts—of various types. That might suggest that it has to do with their stills and how they run them.
*In fact, alectron points that out in this very comment thread! I’m so original!