Port Charlotte PC7

After a very timely review on Friday (the new Laphroaig Cairdeas) let’s go back to another late 2000s release. This is also from Islay but was released a year after last Monday’s Caol Ila. It’s also a fair bit younger: 7 years old, to be exact. It was the third release in Bruichladdich’s limited edition run towards what became the regular Port Charlotte 10. I’ve not had the PC5; I’ve reviewed the PC6 (good, but nothing special, I thought) and the PC8 (which I really liked). I have unopened bottles of the PC9 and PC10 on the shelf—I’m not sure where the series stands now.

I opened this bottle for my local group’s August tasting. It was a big hit there, garnering some big scores from a few people. I quite liked it too and have been looking forward to sitting down and taking some formal notes. Here they are. 

Port Charlotte PC7 (61%; bourbon and sherry matured; from my own bottle)

Nose: Big lactic wave off the top and it smells more like scalded milk than parmesan. Some lemon below that. As the milk begins to dissipate (takes more than a minute), coastal notes begin to emerge: kelp, wet stones, brine. Oh yes, there’s smoke, of course. After about five minutes the scalded milk note has turned into a more conventional creaminess. With water there’s lemon-cream and vanilla and more lemon mixed with the smoke (which has a slightly rubbery edge now).

Palate: Nothing lactic or butyric here: just ashy smoke, sweet peat and lemon. Nice mouthfeel; drinkable enough at full strength but it will have more to say with water. With more time, a mild butyric note does pop up here. Let’s see if water takes care of that. The smoke expands with water and now it’s more peppery. Some apple too now.

Finish: Long. The cream re-emerges (almost like very milky coffee, actually). Lemon and smoke linger at the end. Longer and smokier with water.

Comments: The milk on the nose at first and second sniff was rather strong, and while not unpleasant, is not exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for in whisky. It settled down though, and with time and water presented a great harmony of smoke, lemon and cream that belies its age. Not much sign of the sherry cask component, by the way. Its contribution may have been to round off some of the more youthful notes. I have to say I liked it better at the tasting when the bottle was newly opened. I’ll track the bottle as it stays open and report if there are any significant changes. If you’ve tried it as well, as I know some of you have (Ol’ Jas?), please write in below.

Rating: 87 points.


17 thoughts on “Port Charlotte PC7

  1. Once that milk/Parmesan note surfaces it’s very challenging to look beyond it. That’s what has tended to keep me away from the House of Bruichladdich, however quirky and earnest they may be. I haven’t spotted it so much in the PCs, mind you, but clearly it’s always lurking.


  2. While I did get strong pukey notes in the Laddie 10 (and milder versions in almost every McEwan-era Bruichladdich I’ve had), here it’s not so much pukey as oddly milky—it’s not off-putting. I should say though that this wasn’t particularly pronounced from the fresh crack of the bottle. I’m hopeful it may abate as the bottle stays open.

    I think I’ve read that it’s the shape of the stills that does it (or maybe a combination of that and the temperature at which they run them).


  3. A friend of mine describes this as a tire fire in a candy factory. I’ve only started to delve into peat and I found this to be very overwhelming at first, all that smoke hits at the front and the finish lingers for forever.


  4. I recently opened my PC7, which I believe was the dustiest bottle in my stash. Below is a copy of what I recently said about it on Connosr. No milk.

    I saw my open bottle of Port Charlotte Islay Barley getting down to its last couple glasses, and figured it was the right time to do the H2H2H2H with the PC7 and the Islay Barley, along with the An Turas Mor and the Scottish Barley that I had in my sample pile, poured off from yesteryear’s bottles.

    The results?

    •PC7 is easily the best from that lineup. EASILY. Bigger, fuller, broader, and just tastier. It’s very good, and I can see why people hoarded it and its kindred back when they were current, but it’s nothing crazy that anyone needs to seek out on the secondary market as long as the usual heavy-hitters remain widely available from the likes of Ardbeg and Laphroaig.

    •An Turas Mor and Islay Barley are pretty similar. Zippy, fresh, and clean.

    •Scottish Barley is “the last one picked for the team,” so to speak. Dull and kinda “bleh” in comparison. I can’t ever see buying another bottle of this.

    Next up: A blind H2H with PC7 v. Octomore 6.1. That’ll be my chance to finally test my often-espoused-but-never-verified theory that your basic X.1 Octomore isn’t noticeably peatier than your standard Islay heavyweights. The PC7 is the best apples-to-apples comparison I can muster.


      • No, I don’t get those lactic/butyric notes from other Bruichladdichs from that era—not that I’ve had ton: just the PCs mentioned above, Rocks, the original Laddie 10, and a recentish Classic Laddie. And I’m not even sure whether those were all from the McEwan era.

        But to be honest, I don’t ever get many individual “notes” ever, from any whisky. My experience with a whisky is almost always more “global” than “dissected.” So you probably shouldn’t draw any conclusions from whether I’ve noticed that (in)famous baby puke.


        • I think the Rocks was pre-McEwan spirit that was tarted up in some kind of wine cask or the other. At least that was true of the early version—not sure if the base whisky or the finish remained the same in later versions once their own spirit had come online.


  5. I opened a 14 year old PC from Acorn the other day.
    I opted for “creme brulee” as a descriptor – milky, but a little bit burned (not so much turned), and a little bit wobbly.


  6. As far as I can tell the original Port Charlotte series ended with PC12. I have several bottles of PC10, PC11 and PC12 as well as 1 each of PC7 and 8. Had several PC9 but regrettably sold them as they are now near unobtainium. Waited for PC13 but never happened. All PC bottles are cask strength.
    BTW: Have read that some bottles of PC12 are somewhat below standard although the one I’ve recently opened is very nice.


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