The malts bottled by the Whisky Exchange in their Elements of Islay line have been of a uniformly high quality—at least, all the ones I have had have been very good. I remember the very first Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Caol Ila in the series were particularly good (I reviewed those in the early months of the blog: Ar1, Lg1, Lp1, CI1). They were also quite reasonably priced. Since then, as with the whisky market in general, the prices of these releases has risen sharply, making it harder to justify the value of what is after all NAS whisky. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy these when I get the opportunity—now that TWE no longer ships to Minnesota, that opportunity is when I am in the UK—but I am conscious of the fact that I am inclined to cut the Whisky Exchange some slack for their NAS releases that I do not extend to big whisky companies. Anyway, here is my review of the first Port Charlotte released in this series. Unlike the 1s linked above, this was bottled from a sherry cask. It was released in 2012 and I have no idea why I waited six years to open it. I’ve not had any of the others in the series; the Pl2 was from rum casks and the next two from wine casks, and I passed. I see that the Pl5, released this year, is from a bourbon hogshead. I’ll keep an eye out for that one. Anyway, let’s see what this is like. Continue reading
I said I was going to post my write-up of a visit and tour of Tomatin today but I have roughly 37,573 photographs from the day and when I sat down today to make a selection, resize and upload it was all too much. Accordingly, I have punted that to next week and I have another whisky review today. If you are disappointed you can always ask for your money back. Since this was going to have been an all Islay week (with Monday’s Laphroaig, Wednesday’s Bowmore and yesterday’s Kilchoman), I decided to at least be consistent with that. Here, therefore, is a review of a Port Charlotte (Bruichladdich’s peated malt, if you don’t follow this stuff closely). The distillery is, of course, known for a wide range of wine cask finishes, but the fact that they produced this from eau de vie casks (or is it a single cask?) surprised even me. I fear that my jokes from past years that the brain trust at Bruichladdich would eventually release Jägermeister and then septic tank finishes may soon come true. Continue reading
I believe this is the oldest Port Charlotte I’ve yet tried—it was bottled in 2013, just short of its 12th birthday. I’ve liked most of the Port Charlottes I’ve had a fair bit (the PC 8 most of all), with the heavy peat masking more or less effectively—as it does in Octomore as well—the sour milk note I usually get from current era-Bruichladdich’s distillate. This one, a single cask from the German bottler, Malts of Scotland, is a sherry cask to boot, and a sherry hogshead at that. It will be interesting to see how the combination of sherry, heavy peat and a bit of age work with this spirit.
The age also makes me wonder what Bruichladdich’s plans for the Port Charlotte line are. The Port Charlotte 10 was released a couple of years ago: are they going to be releasing and older version of that as well? And is the cask strength PC series going to keep going?
Here is the fourth release in Bruichladdich’s cask strength series of releases of their heavily peated Port Charlotte whisky, the PC8, “Ar Duthchas”. (The barley for the Port Charlotte line is peated to 40 ppm, putting it in the Lagavulin and Laphroaig range.) It was released in 2009 and represents the last release in the PC series of spirit from the original 2001 distillation, making it 8 years old. That is to say, PC 9 is not a nine year old—I’m not sure what year the spirit used in that and subsequent releases is from.
The series is now up to PC11—I’m not sure if there’s an endgame for the series or if there’s always going to be an ever-older annual cask strength PC release. At any rate, with unopened bottles of the PC7, 9 and 10 on my shelf I’m not in any danger of catching up to them. I’ve previously reviewed (and emptied) the PC6 and I was not a huge fan of that one. This PC8, however, I thoroughly enjoyed and am looking forward to tasting it again.
The bottle is long gone and so this review is from a 6 oz reference sample saved from when the bottle was in its prime. Continue reading
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). Continue reading
“An Turas Mor” means “end of the journey” or something along those lines in Scots Gaelic and was one of Bruichladdich’s releases leading up to the long awaited release of the regular 10 yo in their heavily peated Port Charlotte line. I have a sample of that new Port Charlotte 10 on my shelves and a review of that will likely appear soon as well.
This was opened a few months ago for one of our local group’s monthly tastings–it then sat at the half-full mark for a few months before being featured again in our tasting for March. On both occasions it was the fourth of four malts tasted and followed another less aggressively peated malt. I was interested to see how our group–which tastes everything blind–would rate it right after opening and then after it had sat a while. As it happens, as a group we were all over the map. One cluster rated it about the same on both occasions. Another cluster rated it much higher on the first occasion than on the second. And a third and smaller cluster had it slightly higher on the second occasion. Its aggregate score dipped a few points on the second occasion. I myself had it slightly higher on the first occasion than on the second, finding the palate and finish to have lost a little oomph. It is, however, the case that I am the only one in the group who does not taste blind and so I knew I was drinking the second, “oxidized” half of the bottle. Continue reading
Bruichladdich, as you may know, is one of two Islay distilleries traditionally known for unpeated whisky (Bunnahabhain is the other). This changed after the distillery was purchased and re-opened by Mark Reynier and co. a little over ten years ago (Mark Reynier was pushed out last year after the distillery was purchased by Remy-Cointreau). Head distiller, Jim McEwan put together a number of peated vattings that were part of the roughly 3,750 bottlings that Bruichladdich released over that time to maintain cash flow while they waited for their own unpeated spirit to come online (which it did in 2011). They also started distilling new peated spirit, both the high octane Octomore line (see my review of the 2.1 here), and the more traditionally highly peated Port Charlotte line, the barley for which, I believe is peated to about 40 parts per million (in line with Lagavulin, Ardbeg and Laphroaig). Continue reading