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Monday, June 14, 2021

Port Charlotte 14 year old 2004 Dramfool for Feis Ile 2019

(Port Charlotte cluster homepage)

I'm just going to review three Port Charlottes this week because:

#1) What the hell, why not?
#2) See #1

All three of these Port Charlottes were released by Scottish independent bottler, Dramfool. Today's whisky is 14 years old, Wednesday's is 15, Thursday's is 16. (They also released a 13 year old, but it was from a "Jim McEwan Signature Collection" and a "1st Fill Pomerol cask", so that's a double no-thanks.) Three whiskies, three ages, three vintages. The 14 year old was from a first fill sherry hoggie, and the whisky's color is very dark. Is the PC spirit up to the challenge?

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Brand: Port Charlotte
Ownership: Rémy Cointreau
Independent Bottler: Dramfool
Age: 14 years (2004 - 2019)
Maturation: first-fill sherry cask
Outturn: 299 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 53.4%
(from a bottle split)


What a nose! Tar, burning tires, musty basement and Luxardo cherries. And that's just the start. How about some diesel, spent synthetic oil, toffee pudding and walnuts? And then......new car smell. The cask overwhelms the spirit once the whisky is reduced to 46%abv. There's less smoke and industry. More nuts (of the Brazil and hazel varieties), figs and dates.

The palate does a damned good job matching that fabulous nose, especially on the tar and basement notes. Bitter chocolate and burlap fills the background, while a crazy cocktail of Campari, tart limes and blackberry juice floats in the middle. Dropping the abv to 46%, rolls the cask out, way out. I mean it's very woody. Some good salt and kiln notes hover around the edges.

The palate's crazy cocktail morphs a bit in the finish. Now it's tart citrus, black licorice and Underberg, all wrapped up in burlap and tossed onto new asphalt. Yeah that makes sense. At 46%abv, the finish becomes more tannic. A little bit of citrus, salt and kiln remains.


This is a great example of a fun, loud Port Charlotte that is not 63+%abv. The power isn't in the poison, it's from all the other curious compounds floating around in the glass. The spirit and its vessel have their best matched tussle in the nose, and the palate works best when neat. In fact, I'd say keep water out of it, since dilution seems to do little but bring out A LOT of oak. When neat, it's quite a show, perhaps too much for some palates, but if you expected subtlety from a first-fill sherried Port Charlotte then that's your own issue.

Now that the tariffs seem to be on their way out, can some distributor haul some Dramfool bottles into the US? And not charge $300 for a teenage whisky?

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 89 (neat)