Last week’s reviews were all of peated whiskies that had spent at least some time in port casks. The week began with a Bunnahabhain that spent three of its eight years in a tawny port cask and ended with a Longrow that spent all of its 11 in a refill port pipe. In between was an 8 yo Kilchoman that was finished in a ruby port cask. This week’s whiskies do not involve port—not that I know of anyway—but they are all also heavily peated. First up is a Port Charlotte 14 bottled by Master of Malt’s That Boutiquey Whisky Co. label. I’m not too sure about how these TBWC batch releases work. This one apparently comprised 662 bottles but they were all 375 ml, which makes it not the largest batch. Indeed, the total volume would approximate 331 regulation 750 ml bottles—which is between a hogshead and a butt. So if a batch was put together from more than one cask (as you would expect) it might be the marriage of a bourbon hogshead and part of a sherry butt. This is all speculation, of course—but in the absence of detail from the bottlers it’s all I’ve got. My sample came to me from the redoubtable Michael Kravitz of Diving for Pearls (see here for his review).
Port Charlotte 14, Batch 7 (51.1%; That Boutiquey Whisky Co.; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Oh yes, off the top there’s that scalded milk note I always seem to get from Bruichladdich’s distillate but a big burst of ashy smoke comes along with it; some sweeter notes of caramel and toffee below. On the second sniff the butyric note has begun to burn off and now there’s a lot of salt as well as a meaty savouriness. It settles into an earthy base note with bitter chocolate and smouldering leaves. I’m afraid that as it sits the butyric note revives. Let’s hope more time/air and then water clear it out for good. Yes, a few drops of water and it’s much abated. The salt picks up again and it’s now more in the salted nuts than coastal brine end of the spectrum.
Palate: Leads with the ashy peat with the salt and then some lemon coming up from below. The butyric note is far more restrained here, thank goodness. A bigger alcohol bite than expected at full strength but still approachable enough. The sweeter sherry notes are not as prominent here, at least at first. Less ash with water and the citrus gets a bit sweeter.
Finish: Long. The ashy peat keeps going and the lemon picks up alongside. There are hints of richer fruit but they don’t quite emerge fully. As on the palate with water, which is to say, less ash more sweet citrus. Definite touches of passionfruit around the edges of the finish now.
Comments: That butyric note aside, I quite liked this. The richer sherry character didn’t follow through on the palate. I was going to say that this might be because the sample came from later in Michael’s bottle’s life but I see that his review of a relatively fresh crack doesn’t really mention those notes much on the palate either. He also does not mention the butyric note at all—is this another of those things that some people are far more sensitive to than others? Anyway, less of that and more of the passionfruit and I would have liked this even more.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Michael for the sample!