As long-time readers of the blog—the few, the ashamed—know, I almost always pick up a strong butyric note on Bruichladdich’s whiskies. Ranging from scalded milk to sour butter to parmesan rind all the way to more vomitous associations, this quality is not my favourite. I find it more pronounced, ususally, in the unpeated Bruichladdich line. In the heavily peated Port Charlotte the peat and smoke tend to neutralize it after a while. In the case of this release, a 13 yo bottled by an indie outfit named Rest & Be Thankful, there is also a wine cask involved. This is rarely good news when you’re dealing with Bruichladdich who’ve made a lot of wineskys. I had not heard of Jurançon wine before looking this cask up. Jurançon is a French AOC that produces white wines, dry and sweet, apparently known for their tropical fruity character. I’ve no idea which kind of Jurançon wine this cask had previously held but a) I’m glad this is not from a red wine cask and b) I’m intrigued by the theoretical promise of fruit. Let’s see how it goes in practice.
Port Charlotte 13, 2001 (62.8%; Rest & Be Thankful; Jurançon wine cask 1036; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: It’s a miracle! There’s no eau de puke here whatsoever! Instead there’s a nice mix of phenolic smoke, sweet malt, vanilla and fruit (apricot, plum, berries of some kind). As it sits some cereals pop out too and apricot moves in the direction of orange peel. With water it’s softer still with more of the cereals and malt and vanilla (smoke’s still big, of course).
Palate: The smoke is ashier here and the fruit complex is dominated by the citrus. Very approachable at full strength (though that may be because my sample probably came from a bottle open a long while). Does also feel tight though—may need air and—more likely—water to full display its charms. Gets saltier as it goes and the smoke gets a little sharper. Okay, let’s add water. Ashier and sweeter with water. As I swallow the smoke gets tarrier.
Finish: Medium-long. Smoke and salt. Longer with water and the tar carries through.
Comments: Well, the wine influence is very mild here—it seems mostly to have knocked out the usual Port Charlotte buytric note. What’s left is very clean, acidic peat and smoke with just enough fruit to round it off. The fruit is not particularly tropical bt the whole is very nice indeed. Not sure how much this went for (a lot I imagine) but I’d be happy if I had purchased a bottle. Of course, given my wine cask prejudices I wouldn’t have bought one even if the price had been reasonable.
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!
From memory it was about EUR 130 when it was released. For whatever reason(s), Port Charlottes seem to be expensive for their age.