Monday’s Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 013 was fine but nothing more. Wednesday’s Caol Ila 8, 2013 was a lot better. Islay peat week now concludes with the oldest whisky of the trio: a 16 yo Port Charlotte or peated Bruichladdich. Will this keep the positive trajectory going? I hope so even though I am not a fan of that buytryic sour milk/parmesan rind note I get off almost everything from Bruichladdich. Like the Laphroaig and the Caol Ila this is bourbon cask matured; from a single bourbon barrel, in fact. It was bottled a few years ago by the Whiskybase lads for their Archives label. Once upon a time I used to buy those Archives releases on the regular. Alas, in recent years it’s become very difficult to purchase whisky from abroad in the US. And even though some Archives releases have come to the US, intra-state shipping here has also become all but impossible—and I don’t think any of their releases have come to Minnesota. And so I am compltely out of touch with what they’ve been up to in recent years. Anyway my sample of this one comes to me from the redoubtable Michael Kravitz of Diving for Pearls. His review of the same whisky—which I have not read yet—can be found here.
Port Charlotte 16, 2001 (59.7%; Archives; bourbon barrel #278; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Praise Jebus, there is no butryric greeting! Instead, a big wave of ashy peat, bacon fat, lemon and briny sea air. Some hints of muskier fruit with time (pineapple) but I can’t say I’m getting the tropical fruit basket some have reported. (It’s not very phenolic either.) With time there’s some chalk, the lemon turns to citronella and a bit of passionfruit begins to come through as well. Another 15 minutes and there’s some honeydew melon (which is not a tropical fruit). The savoury notes expand with water and quite a lot of sweet stone-fruit rises up to meet them. The citrus now turns to orange, and specifically to hard orange candy. Some pastry crust too now or is that creme brulee?
Palate: Comes in generally as indicated by the nose but with quite a bit of cracked pepper joining the fray in place of the salt. A big bite at full strength; nice oily texture. The salt emerges on the second sip. With time some sour milk does show up here. Let’s hope it burns off or that water takes care of it. Yes, it mostly dissipates with time. Okay, let’s see if water brings out more fruit. Yes, but it’s all citrus and really all lime—it blends very nicely with the ashy smoke as the pepper and salt recede.
Finish: Long. The pepper continues for a while as some sweetness builds under it and flickers out. As on the palate with water at first but then the salt comes back out with a vengeance.
Comments: A very enjoyable Port Charlotte. I may not have found it to be very fruity, or more accurately, fruity in the ways that some reviews made me expect, but I also did not find very much of the butyric notes I expected to find. All in all, it’s a very good mix of acidic fruit, ashy peat and savoury, meaty notes. Just a bit more depth and I’d have it in the next tier.
Rating: 89 points.
Thanks to Michael for the sample!